Pen vs Keyboard

There are several reasons for a modern man to get interested in calligraphy. Firstly, the office prisoners, glued to the screen and keyboard at work and at home would find using a pen for a change, remembering (or discovering) the long-forgotten feel of it, quite refreshing. Secondly, in the rough sea of business plans and expiring deadlines calligraphy emerges as an island of calm. The Moscow News (Moskovskie Novosti, newspaper) interviewed a renowned calligrapher to find out where you can learn this rare art and what good it does.

Why and what do calligraphers learn?

Despite the fact that calligraphy has almost completely migrated to the realm of elite arts, it has a relevant ethic (apart from aesthetic) mission of maintaining the connection between different generations and cultures. Creating a calligraphic masterpiece is akin to playing a musical instrument. The pianist feels the keys under his fingers, and the calligrapher: a sharpened quill; the skill and technique as well as feeling the idea and purpose behind what you are doing are equally important in both domains.

Tsoi and Jobs

The Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy in Sokolniki Park harbours a portrait of Viktor Tsoi, a legendary Russian bard, framed by Korean characters that can be translated as “Tsoi lived, Tsoi lives, Tsoi will live”. This is the brainchild of calligrapher Kim Jong Chil. “Viktor Che (that’s how his surname sounds in Korean, MN) is very popular in our country”, the author explained, “One day I stumbled upon a video of his songs, and I liked it. Then I learnt about his descent and grew ever more fascinated; I wanted to unveil the mystery surrounding the circumstances of his untimely death. I was deeply influenced by his work.”

Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College after only one semester. The only classes he continued to attend were those on calligraphy. According to his own words, his products would have never of had the beautiful set of fonts if he had not fallen in love with calligraphy, seemingly without any practical application at the time.

Alexey Shaburov, Director of the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy

“We opened this museum in 2008 and the National School of Calligraphy in 2010; thus we’ve gone a long way accumulating a collection of 3000 exhibits, attracting more and more eager calligraphy adepts every year. We are holding large international exhibitions twice a year, as well as VIP events on a monthly basis. Calligraphy helps us preserve history, for the time is nigh when handwriting shall dissolve into oblivion; we’ll preserve these brilliant chefs d’oeuvre so that our offspring can learn how beautiful the hand of their great-grandfathers looked, transforming mere necessity into an art. A calligraphers’ work is revered and recognized for they create the beautiful; and for some masters, in Korea, for example, it is their only means of subsistence.”

Artyom Lebedev, teacher of the National School of Calligraphy

“I’m an artist by profession; I graduated from an art school, later from an academy of art and culture, that’s why I’ve become part and parcel of this project. I’m training adults. We have a teacher for children as well: Nina Kozubova. On average, one group consists of 8-10 students, sometimes swelling up to 13-15. We literally start with the elements – writing vertical lines, holding the pen properly. We have three levels: broad-nib pen, a bit of the history of calligraphy, and finally, the sharp-pointed nib pen.”

Yang Min Jong, Director of the Korean Cultural Centre under the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Russia

“In my opinion, the most ancient writing tradition comes from China. However almost no historic monuments have survived to this day, as is the case in Japan. After the revolution, the Chinese writing system was simplified dramatically. Old school calligraphers used to be limited by black, white, and red colours; now there are no limits. Studying calligraphy is very important because it helps raise the next generation, cultivating patience and diligence.”

Source: the Moskovskie Novosti newspaper

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