Museo Correr

Museo Correr

THE POETICS OF WRITTEN SPACE. Handwriting and calligraphy.

The artists

Benno Aumann (Germany, Italy). Born in 1950, he graduated in graphics and art at the University of applied Sciences in Augsburg, Germany, where he studied writing/calligraphy and printing under Lisa Beck. He worked as a designer in various advertising agencies and began working free-lance in the printing, writing and calligraphy sectors in 1982. In 1995 he participated in calligraphy courses held by internationally renowned calligraphers such as Brody Neuen-Schwander, Arne and Anna Wolf, Ewan Clayton, André Gürtler, Monica Dengo and others. He has taught writing and calligraphy in various cities in Germany and abroad. He is president of the Schreibwerkstatt Klingspor Offenbach, an international calligraphy society, creator and editor of their annual and correspondent for “Berliner Sammlung Kalligraphie” (Berlin Calligraphy Collection). He lives in Milan.

Satsuki Hatsushima (Great Britain, Japan). Born in Japan in 1966, she studied and graduated in graphic design at Kyushu Zokei Art College in Japan (1985-1987), followed by one year studying drawing at Abilene Christian University in USA (1990); studied and graduated from design and typography (2005-2007) at Graduate School of Fine Arts at Kyushu Sangyo University. She worked at the book designer’s studio Shiga Editorial Design in Tokyo, Japan (1990-1992). Recently she has been working as a freelance designer and established Studio Ponte (since 2002) in Japan for teaching design and arts. She has also been teaching at Kyushu Zokei Art College since 2007, as a first lecturer of western calligraphy at colleges in Japan.

Ye Xin (China, France). Ye Xin was born in Beijing in China in 1953. At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, he was exiled with his family to Shanxi, where he worked in a tractor factory but kept on drawing, painting and engraving. As a “worker-artist” he was admitted to the Beijing Fine Art School in 1968 where he later taught drawing. Ye Xin moved to France, in 1986, and defended a PhD in art history at the Sorbonne in 1995 on the relationship between writing and painting. He currently lectures in drawing and calligraphy at the University of Paris VII. His works are on display in the British Museum, the National French Library (BNF), the Musée Rodin library, and the Méjeannes library in Aix en Provence. He designed the Confucius exhibition for the Musée Guimet (Paris-2003), has exhibited in France and China and published several books including Hugo, Le sac du Palais d’Eté with Nora Wang and Wang Lou (2003) and Baudelaire, l’étranger- calligraphies (You Feng, 1997). Whether taking his inspiration from Chinese legends or French poetry, Ye Xin lets his imagination guide his brush and he shows the world as he sees it. In his work, collective and personal memories blend in fragments of images and writing which mingle past and present. Brush and ink give a drawing which the spectator is free to interpret. The way Ye Xin plays with writing and the relations between frame, medium, surface, sign and sense bring him close to the artist Alechinsky and the poet Christian Dotremont, in their testing of the limits of pictorial writing.

Ewan Clayton (Great Britain). Professor in Design at the University of Sunderland, Ewan Clayton lives in Brighton, UK, where he runs his own calligraphy studio. Ewan has taught and exhibited widely in Europe, North America and Asia. For many years he worked as a consultant to the Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre where his interest lay in new document technologies. He has been invited lecturer at Microsoft Research, Redmond, USA and The Centre for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, Japan. Ewan grew up near Ditchling, Sussex, where his family worked in a guild of craftsmen founded by Eric Gill. In 2009 Ewan negotiated the opening of a new full-time Calligraphy with Design degree administered by the University of Sunderland but run in Kensington Palace, London, in space provided by the Prince of Wales. His book ‘The Written Word: A History of Writing’ will be published by Atlantic Books in 2011.

Laurent Rébéna (France). Born in Paris in 1963, after training at the Scriptorium in Toulouse Laurent Rébéna founded the association Scripsit then Calligraphis in Paris, where he teaches at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and La Monnaie de Paris. He has exhibited in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and at the Centre for the Union of Russian Artists in St Petersburg; he also creates performances and designs works for corporations such as Acer Finance, Areva. Calligraphy is certainly the starting point for his work but with an extraordinary mastery of the various Latin alphabets and a wide variety of tools and materials, he does a balancing act with movement, breathing, and marks. He unfurls ribbons of signs written with a pen or a brush and puts all his experiences to use in his pursuit of “exuberant asceticism”.

Carlo Buffa (Italy). He has been working in the field of visual communication since the middle of the 1970s and now teaches graphics at I.S.A. Fanoli, Cittadella, Padua. In 1994 he curated the exhibition “The World of Calligraphy” with authors from numerous countries in Europe, North America and the East; in 1995 “«La scrittura prende la parola», writing in cinema. In 1996 he organized the international calligraphy prize Belle Lettere Award «One letter, one thousand words», curating the book catalogue that received the G. Fedrigoni for graphic quality. Several years ago he began working with shodō in the BOKUSHIN school run by Maestro Norio Nagayama, an affiliate member of J.E.C.F. (Japan Educational Calligraphy Federation). He is a member of the Japanese school SHOSHOUKAI, His calligraphies have been on display in the National Art Center in Tokyo in the SHOSHOUTEN 2008 and 2009 exhibitions and as part of the «2009 World Calligraphy Biennale of Jeollabuk-do», Korea.

Hassan Massoudy (France,Iraq). Born in Najef in southern Iraq in 1944, as a boy he lived in a city where images were prohibited and began to practise the art of calligraphy. Then came the years of political turmoil and after many spells in prison, he left Iraq for France in 1969 and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux- Arts in Paris. He exhibits regularly and has published many books. He has also created several shows with musicians and dancers (including Métaphore with Carolyn Carlson in 2005). He was instrumental in the revival of calligraphy in the twentieth century. He looks for spontaneity in writing and the immediacy of expression. His dynamic work brings poetry alive and his strokes, always in phase with the meaning of the words, reflect power and rigour as well as suppleness and grace. He looks for a vast, unlimited space for his calligraphies. The blank behind the word is an integral part of the form; calligraphy therefore evokes space by its absence. The poem becomes a parallel song, an ethereal pictogram going back to the dawn of writing, in his homeland, in Sumer, 500 years ago.

Abdallah Akar (France, Tunisia). Born in the far south of Tunisia in 1952, Abdallah Akar came to Paris in the late 1960s, where he met and trained under the master Ghani Alani. Akar has worked on the art of calligraphy for nearly thirty years and has taught at the Institut du Monde Arabe since 1993. Periodically he teaches at the CELSO Istituto di studi Orientali di Genova. He exhibits in France, Italy Austria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Morocco and has published many works including Les poèmes suspendus (Alternatives) and Les Sept Dormants (Actes Sud), a collective work for which he penned all the Arabic texts. As a painter and calligrapher from the desert, Abdallah Akar takes us on an inner journey. He draws his inspiration from Arabic and Western poetry using a luminous palette with a balanced mix of writing and colour. The Mu’allaqats or suspended odes are one of his main areas of research.

Torsten Kolle (Germany). Born in 1965, Torsten Kolle is a lettering artist and graphic-designer from Braunschweig, Germany. His art education included drawing, painting, photography, history of art and calligraphy; all these fields have deeply influenced his way of thinking about contemporary calligraphy. Since 1999 he has worked as a freelance lettering artist and teacher. In 2002, he was invited to teach Western Script Art in China and since 2003 he has been a calligraphy and type-design teacher at the University of Applied Arts and Sciences in Hildesheim. He is a founding member of Gruppe 26, an association for traditional and experimental western calligraphy. Torsten’s works were exhibited in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Lithuania, China and Austria. His work received the first prize at “Internationale Grote Prijs voor Kalligraphie” 1994 in Westerlo/Belgium, and Expo2000 “Psalm 8” in Hanover/Germany.

Monica Dengo (Italy, USA). Artist-designer, born in Italy in 1966, she lived in San Francisco (California) from 1993 to 2003 and currently lives in Arezzo, Italy. After the first two years of design and calligraphy studies in Venice and at the Roehampton Institute in London, Monica moved to San Francisco where she studied design and manuscript production techniques with Thomas Ingmire (1993-1996) and figure drawing with Eleanor Dickinson (1993-1996). Since 1997 she has worked with agencies and publishers, mainly in the United States. From 2000 to 2003 she taught calligraphy and experimental typography at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Currently she is engaged in collaborations with the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia as a teacher and exhibition curator and with the Istituto Comprensivo di Terranuova Bracciolini (Arezzo) as teacher and project organizer to introduce a new cursive writing model in the primary schools. Monica has recently been invited to teach in Japan and given workshops in Germany, France, Belgium. She has had exhibitions in many parts of the world including the United States, China, France and Italy. Two of her main art projects are Body as Dream (BAD) and Body as Book (BAB), in collaboration with the photographer Marco Ambrosi, about which you can read in the Arte e Cultura section of Giornale Sentire ( Dengo: scrivo dunque sono. She has published a children’s book Le Penne in Pugno in Italy with Giannino Stoppani Edizioni and in France (Crayons en Main) with Éditions Milan. Two other books, Freehandwriting and Il Corsivo Naturale are available through her web site (info:;

Kitty Sabatier (France). Artist and calligrapher Kitty Sabatier was born in 1959 and lives in Toulouse, France, where she trained at the Fine Art School and at Bernard Arin’s Scriptorium. She opened her first atelier with Michel Derre in 1986 and published Cher maître, lettres de Rilke à Rodin (Alternatives) in 2002. She exhibits in France and abroad. Probing the body of the letter to its bony skeleton, Kitty Sabatier uses her immense talent to create spaces that vibrate with matt or velvety blacks and blank landscapes crossed by a streak of ink. When she works on paper, here Moulin de Larroque and Moulin de Pombié, we see real palimpsests being created: the paper is written on, then washed, written on again and then washed again… the pigments give a powerful stroke as well as great depth of field. Some of her works are called “Failles” and “Equilibres” and indeed they make us dizzy as we are swept into a labyrinth of light and shade, thrown off balance by dazzling whites surrounded by blocks of black or blue, and we get lost in unlikely charts of enigmatic signs.

Brody Newenschwander (Belgium, USA). A text artist and calligrapher, Brody Neuenschwander studied at Princeton University and the Courtauld Institute, where he completed his PhD in 1986 while studying calligraphy at the Roehampton Institute. From the start, Neuenschwander asked serious questions about the place of calligraphy in the modern world. In 1989 Neuenschwander began a twenty year collaboration with director Peter Greenaway, providing live-action calligraphy for the films Prospero’s Books and The Pillow Book, as well as for the operas Writing to Vermeer and Columbus and many other projects. Though the mark of the pen is usually present in Neuenschwander’s work, so are typographic letters, scratched letters, drawings and paintings. In 2004 Neuenschwander taught at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, researching the development of text art in the 20th. Recent projects have included video installations, stained glass, monumental texts in metal and stage performances with live calligraphy. His work attempts to bridge the gap between conceptual art and the acts of drawing, painting, and writing. Neither the medium nor the message is the message. Both are involved in the dialectic between the artist and his experience of the world.

Norio Nagayama (Italy, Japan). Norio Nagayama was born in Japan in 1956 and graduated from the University of Daitobunka in Tokyo. He is a member of the inspectors of the Japan Educational Calligraphy Federation of Tokyo, councillor of the Calligraphy Museum (Nihon Shodo Bijutsukan) in Tokyo and president of the Bokushin association in Italy. Publications: Shodo. La via della scrittura Kaisho (ED.Stampa Alternativa, Rome 1993), Shodo. Lo stile Libero (ED: Casadeilibri, Rome 2005). Ten of his calligraphies are included in “Alla Ricerca del toro: un antico testo illustrato della tradizione buddista”, by Maggio Luigi, Il Melangolo – Genoa 2002. He has taken part in many group and individual exhibitions in Japan, Italy and Switzerland.

Adriana Seri (Italy). Twixt two rivers this life has run – rinsing my language on the banks of the Arno and my pen in the silence of the Ganges. But, while my first name has Sanskrit roots, the etymology of my surname is linked to silk, to a people who lived half way between India and China. Thus, having crossed over, writing in my mother-tongue – from the margins of poetry to those of translation – I find myself now, plying the brush, borne on the ebb and flow of the art of writing– shufa – a unifying element from a civilisation which confided deep memory to the song and placed lyrical poetry as its cornerstone. The road unwinds for me, fugitive and unrelenting, harder than rising into the blue heavens. “Hard is the road of Shu! Harder than rising into the blue heavens! In the West, I turn and look and breathe long.” – Li Po, The Hard Road of Shu (translated from the Italian version)

Birgit Naas (Germany). Born 1968 in Hamburg, Germany, after finishing school Birgit Nass she studied “Grafik Design” at the “Kunstschule Alsterdamm” in Hamburg and then worked as a packaging designer. In 1998 she started working as a freelance designer and calligraphy artist. She has attended courses at numerous calligraphy academies such as “Schule für Schrift”, founded by Martin Andersch, Hamburg. She also attended several international calligraphy conferences and workshops. Her work has been exhibited in several galleries, museums and art societies in Germany and other European countries. Since 2009 Birgit Nass has been teaching calligraphy at Kunstschule Wandsbek, Hamburg. She also organizes courses, classes and workshops in calligraphy. For her, calligraphy is the art of artistic writing. It is much more than the craft of setting the letters in the right way; it means to create artwork from language; the meaning of lyrics and words is transformed in the pictures and objects she creates, becoming a composition of colour, shape, material and written marks.

Michaela Keller (Switzerland). Born in Luzern 1961, she spent her childhood and youth in Zürich. She is currently working for a security trading company. Her first contact with calligraphy was in 1985, at the School of Art in Basel where she met André Gürtler, professor of typography and design. She attended evening classes at the School of Art in Basel and workshops with internationally known calligraphers. She won the second prize at the Speemann Prize 1995 in Offenburg/Germany with the work Murder and Aids which was included in André Gürtler’s book Experiments with Letterform and Calligraphy. Over the years she has expanded her interest to all fields related to book arts: text, calligraphy, woodprint, typography, and serigraphy. Her work has been exhibited in many parts of Europe.

Cinzia Ruggieri (Italy). Born in Catania, after graduating in Foreign Languages and Literature she devoted herself to children’s literature and worked for the daily paper “La Sicilia”. She has attended various courses in Italy and England on book illustrations and art with Carme Solè Vendrell, Kveta Pacowska amongst others. In 1990 she designed and created education workshops for the image and construction of books following Bruno Munaro’s method, together with the University of Catania, as well as in schools, libraries and specialist bookshops throughout Italy. She has taken part in numerous group exhibitions in Italy.

Mari Emily Bohley (Germany). Marí Emily Bohley was born in 1973 in Görlitz and grew up in Halle/Saale, East Germany. At the age of 16 she travelled trough Nepal, Tibet and South America and from 1996 to 1999 she studied calligraphy and bookbinding at the Roehampton Institute in London. In 1999 she opened the Blue Child gallery and studio in Dresden, where she offers evening classes in bookbinding and calligraphy. She has taught in many parts of Europe and has exhibited widely in Germany and in Russia. Some of her works are part of the Akademie der Künste calligraphy collection in Berlin.

Dominique Pinchi (France, Italy). Born in France, he lives and works in Venice. He graduated in Economic Sciences at the University of Nancy in 1975; in 1976 he attended the final year of Arts Plastiques at the University of Strasburg. In 2002 the Minister of French Culture, Jean Jacques Aillagon appointed him Officier des Art set des Lettres. Since 1990 he has been continuing his studies on volcanic material and their application in art (painting and sculpture). He has had numerous exhibitions in Italy and abroad, in particular “Chrysos” in 2007 at Galleria l’Affiche in Milan where 90 books made with volcanic materials and writing created with fire were on display. He has also illustrated various books: “Venise sous ciel” for Rapport d’ Etape in 2003, “l’Amour “libretto of the CD by A. Grillo, “Dieu de Sable” by Marc Alyn for Phi in 2006, “Poèmes ” by Nohad Salameh in 2009 for the Bibliothèque Jacques Doucet. “Odor di Femina” by Marc Alyn in 2009 for the Fondation Carnegie di Reims, “Taccuini del Mediterraneo” on show in Catania, Palermo, Valencia edited by S. Pausig, in 2010.