Julie O. is a Amsterdam- and Copenhagen-based Chinese writer and calligraphy performance artist.
She was born in Southwest Chinese city Kunming, aka the City of the Eternal Spring. While growing up there, she studied with old calligraphy masters as a child. However, from an early age on Julie has been fascinated by abstract expressionism in the ancient art form committed to representing profound emotions and universal themes. Heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism and gestural calligraphy, she focuses on the act of writing and the intuitive discovery of beauty.
Julie left her homeland in 1990s and has lived in free exile since. In November 2015, Julie held a live calligraphy performance “What’s the name of the Little Mermaid” in collaboration with Danish Culture Centre in Beijing. During this two day event, Julie invited people from all over the world to invent a name for Hans Christian Andersen’s famous, nameless heroine and taught them to write it in Chinese calligraphy on a huge paper canvas spread out on Rådhuspladsen in Copenhagen city centre.
Julie participated diverse group shows, including China Youth Calligraphy Show in 1983, Kunming, China, “Berg en Water” in 2012, a tribute to Chinese classic poetry in The Hague, The Netherlands and International Art House in 2012 in The Hague, The Netherlands.
She divides her time between Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
Why is calligraphy an essential component for life?
It is said that the brush of a calligraphy master is like a sword. There is a certain danger in the harmless ink strokes. Why is that?
Perhaps I can share with you my own experience . Even after so many years practising calligraphy as an art form, it still scares the shit out of me every time when I leave a first trace of black ink on blank paper. This is because calligraphy is definitive. Every single movement of the brush is final, you cannot go back to correct your mistakes. Calligraphy is a bit of a merciless place. So like life, calligraphy is all about NOW. It is terrifying to stand in front of a blank canvas, yet you are curious to explore the uncharted waters, and as you go, suddenly your mind and body become a whole through the smooth dance of ink –
Chinese calligraphy is an ancient form art. From as early as 2000 B.C. calligraphy has been considered not just a form of decorative art; rather, it is viewed as the supreme visual art form and sets the standard by which other forms of visual arts are judged. How one writes, in fact, is as important as what one wires. However, the art of calligraphy most likely started from divination rituals. It’s a way to create order out of chaos. Eevery single brush stroke bears a significant, powerful meaning, the shape of ink on paper, the sound of brush quietly moving… Calligraphy is a sensual art and undoubtedly emotional.
Calligraphy is a journey of self-discovery; a way to look at yourself and others. How your “channel” each brush stroke reflects your own emotions. The ink expresses your relationship with the world around you. Space, seasons, and beauty. You open your heart completely in order to connect with other human beings. You are humble, you are hesitant, you are proud. Your calligraphy is your ability to appreciate those vulnerable moments in our lives, which you translate into a healing strength through ink.
The art of calligraphy is gentle, powerful and empowering.