New York was one of the first cities where modern, abstract calligraphy took root and the Art of Ink in America Society is finally bringing it back home.
Through an exhibit entitled “Gesture and Beyond,” the society is featuring new works by its members, the latest in abstract calligraphy, at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum of Queens College.
“It goes without saying that today gestural calligraphy is considered an important art form,” said Amy Winter, director of the Godwin-Ternbach Museum. “In the modern era, calligraphy has become a highly valued aesthetic practice standing on its own merits apart from any verbal or symbolic meaning, and it is embraced globally, as evident in the diversity of the participating artists.”
As opposed to traditional calligraphy — used by Western and Asian cultures as a means of communication but also considered an art form in and of itself — abstract calligraphy takes the old techniques and applies them in a more innovative and avant-garde way.
In certain pieces the calligraphic influence is obvious, while in others, the canvas may appear to be only a painter’s scrap used to wipe excess paint off brushes.
Looking harder, the complexity of each piece reveals itself. Though some are quite chaotic, there is an apparent intention behind each line, stroke and squiggle made on the canvas.
Historically, this style of calligraphy was largely inspired by a major revival of abstract expressionism in the 1990s. Up to that point, little was appreciated of its development, with the focus remaining on the more familiar, traditional Asian calligraphy.
Since that time, the abstract has flowered all over the world piquing the interest of art lovers.
Because of this, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum says it is particularly meaningful that “Gesture and Beyond” returns to New York, where contemporary calligraphy first received recognition.
Opus 7 by Sungsook Setton, a highlight of the exhibit, is a colorful representation of abstract calligraphy.
Through the slices of paint, flashes of what resemble traditional calligraphy can be seen in deep black Sumi ink.
The exhibition will also incorporate a special section in honor of the Society’s founder, the late Dr. Sun Wuk “Hanong” Kim, by showing five works never previously displayed.
When: Through Dec. 30, Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing