What the brush tells


With the exhibition "What the Brush Tells", Sato presented the works of Denise Baumgartner. The award-winning calligrapher lived for 20 years in Japan, where she studied calligraphy as a student of the master calligrapher Kanei Mitsufuji and granddaughter of Ryôsetsu Imai, one of the most important calligraphers of the post-war period.

Japanese calligraphy is a form of art and writing that has little to do with calligraphy in the European sense. Unlike Western calligraphy, Japanese calligraphy - called Shodô, the way of writing - requires a soft brush that offers an infinite number of possible applications. It is not simply a matter of writing "beautifully", but of creating an individual, expressive work. 

In Denise Baumgartner's work one can clearly see that the Japanese characters certainly have their meaning, but that the whole personality of the artist is reflected in the way she writes and in her strokes. With brush and ink, she transforms words into images that can enchant us viewers even without knowing the characters - a poem to look at.


Denise Baumgartner discovered her love for Japanese art and culture at an early age. Her great-grandfather Paul Ritter was Switzerland's first diplomatic representative in the Land of the Rising Sun from 1892 to 1909. His son, Denise Baumgartner's grandfather, grew up in Japan and later married a Japanese woman. Inspired by her Japanese grandmother, Denise Baumgartner became interested in calligraphy. She studied Japanese calligraphy at the University of Zurich until she emigrated to Japan in 1996, where she devoted herself intensively to this art form for 20 years. Her work has been exhibited in Tokyo, Shizuoka and Zurich, including Japan's most prestigious calligraphy exhibition (Yomiuri, Tokyo). In 2009, she won the Sponsor Award in Nara. In 2013, she reached the highest rank in the Shinshokan Association, one of the most prestigious calligraphy associations in Japan, founded by Imai. She has been living in Switzerland again since 2016.

The exhibition "What the Brush Tells" took place from 9 March to 6 April 2023 at Sato. It included several events, including a live performance by Denise Baumgartner. 

Tags : Culture, Event, Japan

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