North York Arts is thrilled to be partnering with another visual artist this fall to showcase their work to the North York community. The show is titled Rhythms of the Mind – Aesthetic Self Reflection by Chinese Calligraphy artist, Katherina Kwan.

Katherina Kwan, an accountant originating from Hong Kong, is a passionate calligraphy artist that wants to make the art form more accessible. Her exhibition pushes viewers to look past language and cultural barriers.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Katherina Kwan. I immigrated from Hong Kong in December 1990. Chinese Calligraphy is like “living” art for me. I have learned over so many years and I have truly discovered the joys of calligraphy. I found that it is a freedom to express myself. I started to have exhibitions to share my joys with people and to show that the art is so lovely. That drives me to keep working on the calligraphy almost every week.

How and why did you get involved with Chinese Calligraphy?

When I was a teenager, I went on a trip with my family. We were with a touring company and two of the members were a retired couple. The old man and woman taught in primary schools, but they loved the arts. They taught me about the culture, the arts and a lot of philosophy about Confucius (a Chinese teacher and philosopher). When I got home, we kept writing letters to each other. Close to my graduation, they mailed me a handmade bookmark. The front side was a painting and the backside was calligraphy writing. I loved the writing, I said “wow writing can be so beautiful”. At that time, I started finding teachers to teach me how to write proper calligraphy and then I learned calligraphy in Hong Kong.

Why is it important to engage communities outside the Chinese community with calligraphy?

People who don’t know Chinese always have questions like, “I don’t have the cultural background, I cannot understand what [Chinese Calligraphy] is.” This is something that people struggle with. But my thinking is different – Chinese Calligraphy is like music. I don’t know Italian, I don’t know French, but when an Italian or French singer sings a song, I can feel their mood and emotions. I can enjoy the sound. I don’t know the background and I don’t understand a lot, but I still love it. Chinese Calligraphy is the same. You don’t need to understand Chinese. You can still understand something very pure about the art. That’s what I want to show people.

What does the title Rhythms of the Mind symbolize?

It’s an Asian philosophy about life. The Chinese title means “No Shape, Big Picture.” There is a bigger scenario beyond the shapes you see. Don’t rely just on the shapes to make meaning. That is the “rhythm” I refer to in the English title. The rhythm is not some planned construct, but an instinctual expression. Each stroke of the brush represents my most raw feelings, and from these feelings I illustrate meaning.

As Katherina’s nephew puts it: “You know how to see a picture as a physical thing whereas [Katherina] is trying to paint a concept, and a concept is intangible.”

Rhythm of the Mind will be showcased in the Toronto Centre for the Arts from September 18, 2018 to October 2, 2018. To find more information click here

Interview by: Vimbai Chikoore

Event and Communications Assistant