Writing systems are distinctive throughout East Asia. They influence the arts and everyday cultures as well as peoples’ living environments and thinking. Because of its extraordinary importance, the topic lends itself to the opening presentation in the space for Transregional Thematic Exhibitions located at the intersection of the galleries for the arts from China, Korea and Japan.
Throughout East Asia, Chinese characters are not only a means of communication but also a medium of artistic expression. Korea and Japan also developed their own writing systems. The art of writing is one of the most highly appreciated art forms in all three cultures and influences their societies to this day. The various forms of writing help create identity, determine cultural heritage and have also served to legitimise power. They are fascinating even to people who cannot read them.
Within its limited scope, the exhibition focuses on 14 selected works by modern and contemporary artists. Neon letters, pine slats and wooden blocks transcend the boundaries of traditional formats and materials. Some works vary and update classical themes or even question them. They repeatedly deal with the close relationship between painting and calligraphy and their equal standing. The mechanism of communication or semantic losses that accompany the development of language and writing are also addressed. The genre’s poetic dimension is evident in all of the artworks.
This temporary presentation of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in cooperation with Prof. Shao-Lan Hertel and students of East Asian art history at the Institute of Art History, Freie Universität Berlin was curated by Uta Rahman-Steinert and is part of the permanent exhibition “Ethnological Collections and Asian Art” in the Humboldt Forum.
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