You have a letter on a fly's wing

The 3rd International Exhibition of Calligraphy has taken place at Yaroslav’s Court downtown V. Novgorod.

After two exhibitions had taken place in Moscow and St. Petersburg the calligraphic forum organizers chose V. Novgorod to be the next exhibition host. As a decisive historical factor birch bark manuscripts are considered to be not only unique monuments of the Cyrillic alphabet, but also samples of Russian calligraphy the local Kremlin exposition starts with.

A short brief on a passed manuscript culture was perceived as an epigraph to the main programme. An ancient Psalter and the Gospels, written in uncial, examples of hook musical notation, letters of grant of Tsars Ivan IV and Mikhail I, business correspondence — all this was a part of everyday life before and not art. Today, first of all we draw attention to aesthetics and also are struck by the diligence and patience of the scribes. One started its work on intelligent Gospel with the words, “Lord, help your sinful servant Potatishku to write without mistakes”.

It is likely that something similar is said by current calligraphers to themselves when addressing each of their deities. It is of the vital importance “to write without mistakes” nevertheless if these are Orthodox troparia, verses of the Koran, lines of the Torah or Buddhist mantras. Even if it is a non-religious calligraphic work it is still clear that authors find it rather difficult to bypass the necessity of nearly prayful concentration.

Novgorod saw nearly four hundred pieces taken from the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy, located in Sokolniki, Moscow. Besides this many artists arrived and the event became international not only in view but in sound. Master-classes lasted all three days of the Exhibition and the penmanship muse servants introduced hieroglyphs and the Arabic script to all the guests.

With a cultural leveling-head mission Rare and sometimes exotic exhibits like the World famous mezuzah (the traditional Jewish averter, performed by Avraham Borshevsky, because of its record size recently joined the Guinness Records Book) or Sacred mantras by the German masters Sven Plumper (carved in yellow sandstone and covered with gold leaf inscription, “The activity of all Buddhas, act through me”) were presented. Only through the lens an inscription made by Chen Forng-shean of Taiwan on a fly’s wings can be seen. A Russian artist Yuri Koverdyaev used birch bark as a basis for his work.

Such wonders attract attention, and it depends only on a viewer how far he/she can penetrate into the essence of calligraphy. The real task is not only an external perfection but also to send letters through the senses. It is hard enough to tune yourself because of our vain life, but one should try.

Dmitry Smolev

Source: Izvestia, an all-state issue

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