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November 05, 1991 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-05

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j The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, November 5, 1991

Page 5

'Frozen ballet' dazzles

by Carrie Walco
"Sometimes I like to think of real, fine calligraphy asfrozen ballet."
-Catherine Burnett,
University Curatorial Assistant of Asian Art
At first glance, the calligraphy exhibit at the University Museum of
Art appears drab, lacking the color and artistic intensity which often draws
admirers. But in order to be appreciated for its worth, calligraphy needs to
be understood and looked upon with an educated eye.
Calligraphy's integration of writing and painting makes it a significant
part of the art world. Chinese calligraphy first came about in 2000 B.C.,
when Oracle Bone script was inscribed into ritual bones. The scribes used
symbols similar to those used by Native Americans: moon, rain, woman,
home, eye, horse.
Seal script (named for its use of sealing documents) came about during
the 13th and 11th centuries B.C. It was displaced by the Clerical or Official
script from the Han Dynasty, which utilized a multilayered, pointed tip
Chinese brush and emphasized horizontal strokes and severe lines.
By the time of the Showa Dynasty, calligraphers "started to use
Western tools, brushes... almost alienating (the artists) from traditional
tools," says Marshall Wu, University Curator of Asian Art.
The artist chooses the tools and script which will best express his or
her individuality and meaning. Some of most dominant and personal styles
on display are the Cursive and Running script.
Cursive script could be described as being slightly more readable than
our modern doctor's scribble. Running script is more legible, similar to the
Cursive forms in its informality and gracefulness. Both of these forms are
most frequently used for their flexibility and aesthetic value.
One of the most valued artists whose work is on display at the Museum
is Obaku Mokuan, a monk nicknamed "One of the Three Brushes." His
strong strokes and format, in both the Cursive and Running scripts, is fol-
lowed by many calligraphers today.
"(Calligraphy) is the most dominant, most characteristic Asian format,
either vertical and hanging, or horizontal for fans and scrolls. The Chinese,
in particular, are great record keepers," says Burnett.
These keepers use colophons, which are seals that prove ownership and
origin, while establishing their work for posterity. Red colophons are
placed at the beginning or end of the artist's waka, a traditional Japanese
poem. Most colophons are written in the traditional Oracle Bone and Seal
script. These seals often go unnoticed due to their small size and their dif-
ficult translation for the contemporary reader.
Fans typically have script on one side and painting on the other. The
artist and calligrapher may work together to produce a fan. Scrolls are of-
ten a common work displayed in homes. Two vertical scrolls are tradition-
ally hung on either side of a painting. The first scroll of a couplet signifies
the beginning of the poem, while the second marks the end. This type of
logic is found throughout the scrolls from the Museum's collection.
Tomioka Tessai's scroll couplet reads, "A home which lacks bamboo in the
garden is inhabitable." A
The mounting process is "almost always an irrelevant part of the
work," says Burnett. The mountings exhibited, consisting of Asian paper
or fine silk, are rather dull and unlike the colorful silks typically used in
clothing. However, this lack of color serves its purpose by leading the eye
to the poetry, which is full of romantic nature references.
And if you're curious, the scroll at left (as translated by Professor
Robert Bower) reads, "A fine example of success to emulate: a lowly egg-
plant ripens and brings forth fruit accomplishing its goal in life."
ART WORDS FROM TLHE BRUSH will be on display at the University's
Museum of Art through November 10th. Admission is free. Call 764-0395
for more info.

After playing the one-eyed, superhumanly strong Nadine on Twin Peaks, Wendy Robie (right) has apparently
decided to take on more challenging roles. Here, as a woman (apparently, Craven couldn't be bothered with
naming one of his main characters), she terrorizes Alice (A.J. Langer) with a knife.
Why don' tyou check the 1s?

The People Under
the Stairs
dir. Wes Craven
by Gabriel Feldberg
Fans of director Wes Craven (the
first Nightmare on Elm Street, The
Serpent and the Rainbow) will
probably be disappointed to find
that he has written a story no more
scary or inspired than Arachnopho-
bia. The beginning of The People
Under the Stairs is merely adequate,
and things only get worse from
there; Craven has about 45 minutes
worth of ideas shoved into the body
of a feature-length film.
The hero at the movie's center is
a 13 year-old boy nicknamed Fool,
who breaks into his landlords' man-
sion to steal rare coins that will pay
. ALL DAY TUESDAY - *exoeptions
STUDENT WI. D. $3.50

for his mother's much needed opera-
tion. Once inside, Fool can't get out,
because the house's owners have
made their home escape-proof. Their

prison-style security system. is de-
signed to keep in several children
the demented owners have kid-
See STAIRS, Page 7

p pST



s;*" 't.,

Combo Coupon!
Present this coupon
when purchasing a
large popcorn and
r "ceive one

T H E p atvemty Club is
UNIVERISTY fcynalum. &M
1 VLRJ~their Ecctpmwiod gueau -
CLUpurchue alcohol.-
for more information
dial 763-1107

with your host
Brett Di Resta
with student comedians
Nathan White
Joe Mancuso

g i


Trip Shakespeare
A& M
1II music be the food of love, play
on. Just don't play Lulu, a most
tedious new release by Trip Shake-
The promising Minneapolis
band, which played a terrific show
at the Blind Pig last March, has
little to say on its second major-
label offering. The charm of their
first album, Across the Universe,
has disappeared.

An appealing collection of
guitar-based songs about everything
from snow to suicide, Universe
suggested a band with the potential
to achieve great things. Trip
Shakespeare seemed to want to
combine R.E.M.-style '80s alter-
native with Elton John-style '70s
mainstream, an effort that resulted
in some successful songs.
But it's not happening here. Lulu,
critic jargon aside, flat-out sucks.
Guitarist Matt Wilson can sing, but
bassist John Munson, who cannot,
has lead vocals on several songs.

Both attempt to sing in keys well
out of their vocal range ("Down
My Block" is a particularly grating
example). Neither man is the singer
this band desperately needs.
And producer Justin Niebank
should have told the band they were
wasting their time with easy dis-
sonance and silly instrumentals.
Melody and craftsmanship will
soon return to songwriting, but not
through Trip Shakespeare, though
they try mightily, and though they
be excellently well-named.
- Peter Meyerhoff

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