Kaoru AKAGAWA

STATEMENT

My enthusiasm is to cross the borders between many different things like “Countries, Religions, Languages, Cultures, etc”. Using Japanese traditional syllables as my basic tool, I also merge different aspects of the world into my works, for example, something modern and traditional, or music, drawing, and writing.

My art, Kana Art is a challenge to revive the traditional Japanese characters, Kana in the modern times, using my technique as a master of Japanese Calligraphy, Kana Shodo. For example, I create images using small Kana characters of varying thickness and darkness. This is my own style of art, which I developed myself. You may say it is inefficient, since I must pay attention not only to my handwriting but also equally to if the image is showing up like planned, and it is incredibly time consuming. I sometimes spend months to complete one work, but I am proud to be inefficient.

Another aim of my artist activity is to inherit Kana to the next generation. I am not only an artist but also a master of Japanese traditional calligraphy, Kana Shodo, which has thousand years of legacy. My concern is that Kana is disappearing rapidly in Japan today.

Kana won its position as one of the most important Japanese art in the 10th century. The women of the upper classes of society used Kana in writing their love letters, novels, or to exchange poems. The first significant literature masterpiece in Japanese history “Genji Monogatari” was also written by a noble woman using Kana in the 11th century. Kana remained more than 1000 year as one of the pillars of Japanese culture.

Unfortunately, due to the complexity of Kana characters, the Japanese government decided in 1900 to reduce the number of Kana taught in schools. The government chose only roughly 50 symbols out of hundreds of Kana, which are to be used in the education.

Kana, the origin of Japanese culture is incredibly unknown today not only to the world, but also in modern Japan. This sense of crisis is my motive as an artist. And this is my attempt to give life again to Kana.