Tomoko Kawao Japanese , b. 1977

Tomoko Kawao believes that the written characters known in Japan as kanji have played a central and essential role in the history of this nation since arriving here from ancient China and can be thought of as a wellspring of culture. 


Over centuries it has coalesced into the art of sho, encompassing the craft of its tools, the development of its techniques, and the maturation of its practitioners and evaluators.


Since I took up Sho at the age of six I have been entranced by the beauty of its lines and the subtlety of its expression. Sho allows no tracing, no do-overs. It’s a medium that is utterly immediate, relying on an all-or-nothing approach to create its works.


As the work comes into existence, a space (called ma in Japanese) is created in between the points and strokes written on the paper. These two features make it possible for viewers to experience the creative process vicariously, and to amplify the force of the brushstrokes or the flow of the lines.


In the negotiated tonal space between black and white, a moment is caught in time, making the place and mood immediately palpable. The calligrapher’s breaths, rhythm, and sometimes even poetic flourishes bring to the viewer memories long forgotten, and an undeniable sense of emotion.


Based on the characteristics of my chosen medium, I have found a kind of spirituality, which relates directly to my own identity.