Akemi Lucas, a Japanese master calligrapher, more commonly known as Master KoShu, discovered Indian ink at the age of 8. Blind in her left eye as a result of cancer, this ancestral practice was to improve her balance and writing. She was taught by Master Seizan Fujimoto, whose lineage goes back to the famous calligrapher of the Meiji period, Meikaku Kusakabe. Head of her own school of calligraphy and exhibited all over the world, Akemi Lucas now makes her living from this art, which is based on Buddhist philosophy. She explains the essence of this poetic practice. 

Why did you choose this practice as your expression? 
Since a small child, I have always loved expressing my deep heart and thoughts through dancing, singing, and in art… I knew there was something impossible to express into words. Holding my brush helped me go through the hardships in my life and calligraphy and painting have become an important part of my life.

How would you describe your universe ? 
My art is simply my life.  Now I can not live without it. 
Japanese calligraphy and Sumi* painting are based on Zen / Buddhism philosophy. We dedicate ourselves to creating art, calligraphy and paintings, by practicing correctly and repeatedly. We go through rigid meditation to enter a deep contemplative state, before creating our own artworks as their reflections enable us to learn about ourselves. On paper, only one brush stroke is allowed for each line, which means before painting, we try to grow the completed vision in our soul and once we pick up the brush, we can let our brush move effortlessly with our core energy. I believe that if we keep practicing repeatedly, we will reach a stage where we can totally lose ourselves into creation, and become “ONE” with the Universe, then the vibration from every single stroke can send some powerful messages to the viewers heart.

You regularly film yourself painting. Is the gesture part of the work? 
It is, I believe my love in each stroke can reach people’s hearts, can resonate with the audience, and so often the audience gets emotional by watching my demonstrations, and I can feel them and becoming one together.

The shapes and colours appear under your brush with a surprising naturalness. Do you repeat? Do you make drafts beforehand?  
Yes, I do make drafts beforehand and practice the layout, timing and rhythm, etc. Almost like a dancing performance. To express the depth with one stroke, I put different colours in different ink density in one brush hair, then I put the completed images in my mind then feel the rhythm and vibration of nature.  I can say that it is a journey that seeks the moment, where each stroke resonates with the breathing of nature.

Have you noticed any similarities between calligraphy and viticulture? Yes. While I was creating these 5 artworks [for Maison Taittinger], I started to connect myself to the history and journey of Champagne making.  And I imagined and felt that a vineyard received the light and love from the sun, the blessings of the earth, and the love and care from the winegrower. This process can resonate with people’s hearts who drink champagne. It is the same for calligraphy and sumi painting, it is the journey and expression of the love from the Universe and nature, which connects to the artist’s soul, and touches viewers’ hearts.

*Sumi-e: Japanese painting characterised by the use of black ink washes and the predominance of landscape as a subject.


Text : Amélie Cabon