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The Dokuritsu Shojindan Foundation is holding its annual sho (Japanese calligraphy) exhibition, the 70th Dokuritsu Sho Exhibition, in the National Art Center, Tokyo in Minato Ward this month to celebrate the new year. The spacious venue is filled with thousands of expressive works consisting of stark white paper and various shades of black ink.

The Dokuritsu Shojindan Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1952 by Teshima Yuhkei, a highly distinguished sho artist in Japan who made great contributions in promoting sho internationally. The foundation has about 3,000 members who are independent sho artists and enthusiasts throughout Japan.

Contrary to most other schools of sho that have distinct styles, the foundation is known for its openness and freedom with an emphasis on individuality and creativity, which is based on the philosophy of the founder. Some of the exhibited works, especially the ones written on large pieces of paper that cover entire walls using extremely thick brushes that need to be held with two hands, look more like works of contemporary art than calligraphy.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the exhibition, there is a space in the venue dedicated to a special exhibition titled “In Pursuit of Expressive Calligraphy — The Large-size Works in the Main —” showcasing 20 works created between 1954 and 1982 by pioneers of the foundation, including Yuhkei, who pursued sho as an art form based on the spirit and principle of independence.

Another part of the exhibition will showcase works from both foundation members and nonmembers. There are two categories for nonmember entries. One is for all applications from those over the age of 18. Foundation judges will award five prizes to outstanding works, with a special prize possible for artists between 18 and 23 whose works receive high evaluations. Another category is for smaller pieces submitted by enthusiasts 15 or older, who will also be eligible for awards.

For the second year in a row, presentations by distinguished calligraphers given in Japanese with English interpretation, as well as the calligraphy workshops enjoyed by many participants each year, will not be held due to the pandemic. However, visitors will still be able to use their imagination fully to feel the overwhelming power and beauty of sho.

With the exception of Jan. 18, the exhibition will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until Jan. 23. Admission is free. Visitors are requested to follow the museum’s safeguards and guidelines.

Visit https://www.dokuritsu.or.jp/english/ for more information about the Dokuritsu Shojindan Foundation.

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