Sunday, 4 December 2016

Dishu - The Ephemeral Art of the Fading Now

Hanzi (traditional).svg

A moment in time stolen; a fleeting memory captured; like mist on the mountains; like the water of a stream; a spider's web spun at dawn then gone by dusk; smoke leaving a chimney; steam hissing free from a boiling kettle; condensation settling swift onto a window. So it is with these wonderful images that coat the pale grey stone with a darker image before they evaporate - this is the art of Dishu.

We see a thing in passing that captures our interest then, as we look again, so the thing we observed has gone replaced by nothing. We seek to trap these moments in our minds, in our memories but in truth, nothing lives long. It seems as if humankind has been around forever but we haven't. All things must pass. 

These artists are in reality not artists at all, not in the accepted sense, they are members of the public practicing the ancient art of Chinese caligraphy. They are street caligraphers or, better still, street artists.  


This may be a modern trend, this painting water onto paving stones, but the calligraphic art is ancient, ancient indeed. The Chinese word for the artform is Shūfǎ. It is a much-revered art found throughout the Far East. The Japanese call it Kanji.

Japanese writing

A name for a thing is simply that, a name. It is not the thing itself. When we think of a tree, when we speak the word aloud, it is for the sake of identifying, for ease of communication and understanding, what it is we speak of, yet a tree is not the defining word for the object we see. There is no botanical definition of what a tree is. My name is Russell but that does not define me. It is a method for ease of identification. It is not me.

I find Chinese calligraphy, all the  calligraphic art of the Far East, exotic and very beautiful. This modern trend, taking up one's brush and painting onto the sidewalk, a sort of regressive art yet paradoxically highly modern; sort of going one stage further than Banksy. Art so fleeting, so transient, that it manages to sum up life itself.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

1 comment:

Cara H said...

I once made some Chinese writing in my fourth grade class and I was very proud of it. My stupid cat peed on it and it had to be thrown away.
I think it would be very calming to do what these people do, a very meditative act. Perhaps I should figure out a way to do something similar.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog