A game with letters

“How many people do you know who have copperplate handwriting? Not many, I suppose. 'I scrawl,' we usually sigh out if we have to take a pen and write something. Children are just like their parents, only in their lives a computer keyboard plays an important role to boot. This is bad. According to calligraphy experts, today one tries to substitute the process of word creation for a computer keyboard, which can negatively affect the child’s physical and spiritual health.”

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia says: “Calligraphy (Greek: kalligraphía — neat handwriting, from kallós — beauty and grápho — writing), the art of beautiful and legible handwriting. The history of calligraphy is connected both with the history of font, writing utensils and also stylistic art evolution.

In China and other Far Eastern countries calligraphy was highly esteemed as the art of implying emotional and symbolic significance to a sign as well as the meaning, thoughts and feelings of a calligrapher. In the antique period of European history calligraphers created classical samples of Greek and Latin fonts, clear and harmonic; in the middle Ages calligraphy, which originated in monastic scriptoriums, evolved from the classical proportions of Carolingian type fonts to decorative and tangled gothic script.

The prominent calligraphic samples of Russian calligraphy are known from the 11th century (starting with the Ostromir Gospel rewritten by deacon Gregory in 1057). Book printing partially limited the field of calligraphy application, and with the invention of typewriters it was preserved as an academic discipline (penmanship) and a number of fields requiring application of artistic fonts (book and banner design, industrial graphics, etc.).

Nowadays even those who work with words (journalists, for example) do not write books by hand, texts must be written in the electronic form. On my way to the 1st International Exhibition of Calligraphy entitled as The beauty of man is in the beauty of his handwriting, which was held in I.E. Repin State Academic Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, I thought that calligraphy was only interesting as a culture-fact, a sign of antiquity. But my opinion turned out to be mistaken, twice!

At first, the first ever made handwritten copy of the Constitution of the Russian Federation was presented there. The folio was executed by a top-flight team of calligraphers in collaboration with publishers led by Pyotr Chobitko, Pesidium Chairman of the National Union of Calligraphers, Professor of the Art and Industry Academy of St. Petersburg. (In the lobby I was told that currently calligraphers are working on the second copy of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The organizers hope this copy might be used for the inauguration oath.)

Second of all, tons of young people came to the master classes provided by the world's calligraphers. Among them are Avraham Borshevsky, Israeli calligrapher, a famous expert in Judaic sacred texts and Chen Wenfu, a well-known Chinese Calligrapher, continuator of a great dynasty of Chinese calligraphers, member of the Chinese Scientific Union of Antithetical Couplets. Where does this vivid interest come from?

“Design and advertising, this is the engine to promote this profession,' Georgy Kozubov, Exhibitor, Professor, Member of the Union of Artists of Russia (in the photo above).“The advertisers” mission is to make people slow down while reading texts presented. For that purpose professional artists, able to work with fonts are needed. But it is also needed to learn computers.” In response to the reporter's question: “What is calligraphy to native masters?” Georgy Ivanovich Kozubov painted the answer, highlighted part of the world 'game' in a separate line.

However, calligraphy is not only a way to earn money, but an art, which leads to personal development. According to a great individual: “Calligraphy is a cure and gymnastics for both the brain and soul.” Gathered in St. Petersburg, calligraphy writers approved the statement as well. It seems that the round-table discussion, held during the exhibition, covered the whole spectrum of issues regarding the interplay between the art of calligraphy, psychology, and medicine, such as: Calligraphy and Personal Growth, Calligraphy and Longevity and Vitality, Calligraphy and Child’s Physical and Mental Development.

The Children's Day also took place at the exhibition: a bunch of master classes were given to kids, schoolchildren and students. Pyotr Chobitko remarked: “We want as many parents and kids as possible to visit our exhibition. It is very important and helps to keep up with traditions.” He notes with bitterness that giving up on a metal pen and the introduction of a ballpoint pen in 1968 led modern society to total dysgraphia: “In the early 70s of the past century the well-known Estonian master and teacher Paul Luchtein warned that the pen would bring lots of trouble for the world’s culture. Today children write in any way, holding the pen as they want. As a result the younger generation has a poor word bank, unable to express thoughts and ideas both in oral and written form.”

Now the exhibits will be brought back to Moscow, where the first Russian Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy was opened in August of this year. Samples of calligraphy will be moved while the questions asked by calligraphers, will remain and we will respond to them.

Source: Sankt-Peterburgskie Vedomosti Publishing House