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Beauty of Hangul Calligraphy
Artworks exhibited by 52 calligraphy artists
Ester Molayeme, Special to The Epoch Times

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Korean Cultural Center and the UCLA Korean Society of Calligraphic Arts co-sponsored the Hangul Calligraphy exhibit that opened May 5, 2006, at the Korean Cultural Center, featuring 52 artworks representing a variety of content and styles by 52 distinguished Hangul calligraphy artists.

Attending the opening ceremony were four Hangul calligraphy masters:

Kon Lee , President of the Korean Society of Calligraphic Arts;

Sung-ja Cho , Vice President of the Korean Society of Calligraphic Arts, recipient of the prize for Excellence at the Grand Exhibition of Korea for Calligraphy;

Jong-sun Lee , Chairman of the Learning Department of the Korean Society of Calligraphic Arts, and Instructor at the Calligraphy Museum of Seoul Arts Center;

Myung-sook Kang , member of Galmul Hangul Calligraphy Association, the Grand Prize Winner of Seoul Grand Fine Arts Exhibition, and recipient of the Prize for Excellence at the Korean Fine Arts Exhibition.

The stylistic differences exhibited by Korea, China and Japan, countries in which the art of calligraphy flourished, are reflective of functional differences carried by the letters in each language, in addition to the various writing instruments used.

For example, the use of brushes with soft material in Oriental calligraphy, such as animal hair, allows for slower and more refined writing motions as compared to the speed gained when writing with pen or pencil.

Korean calligraphy, known as Hangul, is an inherent part of Korean tradition. It is an expression of art that carries life in its characters through rhythmic artistry and symbolism, encompassing cultural sentiment, morality, and philosophy.

While Chinese calligraphy is structurally formulated, Japanese calligraphy is more stylistic and decorative. In my interview, Kon Lee explained that Hangul artistry has both characteristics: it adheres to a few formulas, and has a decorative beauty true to the Korean culture and history.

The hieroglyphic nature of Hangul calligraphy enables a variety of shapes and configurations created through the strokes of the brush, as opposed to a linear alphabet that creates dimensional limitations of the letters. The visual aesthetics of Hangul calligraphy are interpreted based on the energy used in brushstrokes, the changes in light and shades, Muk (ink) thickness, and the type of paper used.

Hangul calligraphy represents the artist's own verse or a poem's introspective expression.

One may find it a challenge to recognize the Korean characters' stylistic differences without knowing the language. However, the universality of art appeal enables one to still capture the sentiment, spirit, and beauty elicited by Hangul calligraphy in the same way one is moved by artwork that does not involve characters.

Performing at the exhibit ceremony was the acclaimed cellist, Janice Foy, who earned her Doctorate degree in ethnomusicology at UCLA, and whose credits include Ennio Bolognini's "Echo Serenade" in the 2003 command performance for HRH Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to the US. Dr. Foy has performed worldwide and received numerous awards including the 1997 Los Angeles City Council Special Commendation for her musical contribution.

The artists displayed great enthusiasm in sharing their work and knowledge with the public. Several Hangul calligraphy seminars and workshops with the artists were held May 6 and May 8 at the Korean Educational Center and UCLA covering several aspects of this form of art.

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