Historical handshake between graffiti and Vietnamese calligraphy
Many people believe that between calligraphy and graffiti exists a gap that seems impossible to fill. However, a project of writing and displaying calligraphy and graffiti is being implemented by the Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities of the Temple of Literature – Quoc Tu Giam with many interesting activities.
From difference to empathy
For a long time in Vietnam, calligraphy has always been known as an elegant hobby of the educated, good at languages and passionate about literature. Meanwhile, the image of graffiti-covered walls often evokes in many people’s minds the image of a “rebellious child” who likes to “scratch graffiti”, longing to express and assert himself.
There are undeniably big differences between calligraphy and graffiti, right from the origin being Eastern culture and Western culture. According to curator Nguyen Quoc Hoang Anh, because of its formation and development in the West, graffiti is heavily influenced by European and American urban culture, characterized by a detailed and clear expression to express personal views. with society and has a certain criticism. Oriental calligraphy is more “ambiguous”, expressing the artist’s mind, intentions and inner journey.
Not only that, graffiti and calligraphy also have a difference in the object of practice, when one side is mainly young people, and the other side includes intellectuals or the elderly. The paint material on the brick background of graffiti seems to be the opposite of the brush and paper in Vietnamese calligraphy. In addition, the difference in aesthetic standards of the two cultures also makes graffiti not fully recognized in Vietnam.
However, Mr. Nguyen Quoc Hoang Anh believes that graffiti has had a long enough time in Vietnam to rise up and find widespread recognition, with many organized groups and directions for further development, not only expressing the ego but also promoting the cultural identity to the world. Although very different, both graffiti and calligraphy are intended to create works of art, both requiring the perfection of techniques, the artist’s thought, of the work as well as the observations and ideas of the author. .
Having worked with graffiti for more than 10 years, artist Do The Thanh – founder of Xuong Kien Applied Arts Co., Ltd. said that the current Vietnamese graffiti community is not only associated with street culture but increasingly actively participates in graffiti. participate in social and community activities; including exchanges with other arts or dialogue with calligraphy as at the upcoming Temple of Literature – Quoc Tu Giam.
“The fact is that the West where graffiti is born also has calligraphy or the art of beautiful handwriting, called Calligraphy. What graffiti and calligraphy have in common is the use of writing to express, decorate or express the spirit of Like graffiti, Vietnamese calligraphy also has a certain break. Both reflect the artist’s personal ego, so there is no definite shape.” – Artist Do The Thanh said.
Fill the gaps
The Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (Hanoi) is implementing an ambitious project, not only bringing graffiti and Vietnamese calligraphy closer together, but so that both can participate in reflecting. Vietnamese cultural values, including the Temple of Literature – Quoc Tu Giam, towards serving the community and tourists.
Mr. Le Xuan Kieu – Director of the Center for Cultural and Scientific Activities of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam said that calligraphy is a very familiar image at the Temple of Literature, but few people think about the appearance of graffiti in the space. this area. In August, a creative activity and exhibition combining graffiti with calligraphy will be held at the Temple of Literature with many interesting activities like never before. This is also the “transformation” of the Temple of Literature – Quoc Tu Giam with the goal of becoming a creative space, displaying art and inspiring the public.
Participating in this special collaboration with graffiti, calligraphy activist Nguyen Thanh Tung said the series of events in August will help visitors really feel the sympathy between graffiti and calligraphy, with activities ranging from dialogue, try using graffiti to draw calligraphy or vice versa; until the challenge of interweaving graffiti – calligraphy on the same space and finally artists of 2 types of freedom to compose.
The first activity of the project was the seminar “Graffiti and calligraphy: From difference to empathy” which was held on May 13. Here, artist Do The Thanh took up a brush to draw graffiti for the first time, while calligraphy activist Nguyen Thanh Tung also tried to put his handwriting next to strange shapes and layouts. Not only dialogue, the two artists confirmed that they would accompany each other on the “bumpy road” of the two disciplines.
Practicing and teaching calligraphy since 2009, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tung said that he also observes graffiti and considers its layout, shape, and characteristics. Not only graffiti, calligraphy also needs to learn rhythm from music, create poses from bonsai art or study painting… to become more and more perfect. As for artist Do The Thanh, appearing at the Temple of Literature is a great opportunity for graffiti to reach a wider audience, instead of just young people and “carefully” expressing their individuality. core.
Nguyen Quoc Hoang Anh hopes that with the graffiti and calligraphy dialogue project, Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam will be a pioneer to help raise public awareness of art, especially accepting the new and different. apart from preserving the old values. This is also the development path of many art forms in the world.
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