An Interview with Calligraphy Artist Ms. Suitou Nakatsuka

"I like the way calligraphy art allows me to express my feelings. I think that’s because the warmth of your hand comes through in the characters. I am very drawn to what I call “the breath of the brush”, where my brush expresses what is in my heart. That sensation where my body warmth comes through while I’m writing makes my brush feel like a part of me. It’s a very interesting, joyful feeling."

THE BEAUTY OF CALLIGRAPHY ART

“I was captivated the first time I picked up a calligraphy brush when I was four. I loved the bendiness of the brush and the way different writing pressures make different line thicknesses, creating all different kinds of expression. To me, the lines and characters in calligraphy art have always felt alive. They dance, they speak, they draw you into a world of imagination. Have you ever spotted a cloud that looks like a rabbit, or an elephant? Calligraphy art can be like that too. I might see a section that looks like a bird, and I can imagine it moving and chirping. It’s not about being precise or getting the format right. It’s about the feeling, the imagination, your unique style in the characters and the lines. Calligraphy art needs to be viewed with the  heart. There’s a quote by one artist that I love: Peruse writing; read pictures.

 

In other words, “read” the intent that picture artists have taken so much time to convey, and recognize writing as art that captures a moment, a feeling. Calligraphy and pictures are not so different to me – it’s all about the feeling. In my calligraphy art, the lines are alive, conveying intent and randomness together. I try to make calligraphy art that will stimulate free, enjoyable and enriching imagination.”


WHAT CREATION MEANS TO ME

“When I create calligraphy art, I find that worrying or thinking “I need to create something good!” causes me to overthink it and my lines don’t turn out the way I want them to. I try to stay neutral, so that I can be who I am in that moment and express myself as I am. In order to do that, I think that it’s very important to live my life in an enriching way, so I cherish each day. In addition to black ink, I work with colors, objects and film. Calligraphy art has a history of hundreds or even thousands of years. Traditionally, it’s a single-tone world of ink and paper, but it’s richer than it looks, with great variety in the shades of black ink and the design of white space. My calligraphy art might be seen called “cutting-edge”, but actually, it is just that I’m simply opening my heart and expressing the vivid and wide-ranging forms that I see in my heart.

 

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than the world where I express my heart and mind in ink. My hope for those who view my calligraphy art is that it will stimulate free, enjoyable and enriching imagination.  It excites me to think about what people see when they look at my works, how they evolve through each person’s perspective.”



My favorite part of any work is the very first brush stroke. That first stroke on the paper defines the feeling that the work will have. I used to try to clear my mind, but you can’t force that. It was only when I began thinking about expressing the things I have experienced and the scenery that I have seen that I entered that wonderful zone where my heart guides my hand.”

Suitou Nakatsuka meets a watchmaker in Schaffhausen

THE PASSAGE OF TIME IN MY HEART

“Last year, I visited IWC in Schaffhausen and created calligraphy art there. The flow of the Rhine , the chirping of birds, the sound of the wind and the pride of the watchmakers at IWC gave me a sense of fulfillment, the very thing that fuels my work the most.  When I saw IWC’s watchmakers in action , I was amazed by their intense concentration on their intricate work, their passion and pride. That is how I need to be about my art. It was incredible to watch them dedicating themselves to create the very best works that they would then proudly send all over the world.  I also met the great watchmaker Kurt Klaus, who had a major idea while walking along the Rhine. It’s inspirational that something so great could come from an everyday event, but of course ongoing effort and incremental growth were behind it too. It made me rethink how I myself spend my days.

 

I created this new golden work about a year after that. I wanted to connect every last memory of Schaffhausen and IWC in one invisible circle.  My experiences in Schaffhausen took on a deeper meaning and became a part of my day-to-day life, and that inspired this work. And the same memories could result in totally different works next year or the year after, because each experience that I absorb through my skin  changes my works. That’s a sign that I’m alive, and I am so happy to have calligraphy art as a medium to express that."

 

The way watches count time may seem constraining to some, but IWC’s remind me of the gentle flow of the Rhine, so if anything, I felt at peace when I tried one on. I felt like the time ticking by had become richer. The watch seemed to capture my experiences and count the time in sync with my heart. I think each person’s heart has its own sense of time, and I hope that I can bring mine to my calligraphy art.”

Suitou Nakatsuka inspects a watch

Suitou Nakatsuka is a free-minded calligraphy artist who lives in Tokyo, Japan. She visited IWC in Schaffhausen and has been fascinated by IWC’s watchmaking and the town of Schaffhausen ever since. A short movie of that trip is introduced here in poetic style: https://youtu.be/7psnP5hb6FA

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