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A decade ago Dutch artist Niels Shoe Meulman coined the word Calligraffiti for the title of his exhibition, which aimed at approaching traditional handwriting with contemporary mediums and - as he claimed - a metropolitan attitude. Since then, the word Calligraffiti started to define a specific form of artistic expression employing calligraphy, typography and graffiti, and it evolved considerably under the influence of artists merging new techniques and alphabets.
The program “Calligraffiti” is part of ikonoTV’s monthly focus “Masters of Ink” (April 2017) and shows two different approaches to calligraphy and urban art by focusing on the practice of USUGROW and Stohead.
Japanese artist USUGROW created his own alphabet by merging elements of Chinese ideograms with letters from the Arabic and Latin alphabets. Drawing mainly in black and white, he eliminates every other color that surrounds him in his studio (which he perceives as noise) to focus entirely on the black line and its motion. His practice appeals to the Oriental tradition and philosophy, according to which black and white embody two main ontological opposites - respectively the full and the empty. USUGROW’s work includes drawings, wall paintings and live performances that he considers complementary to his studio work. Aesthetically, his drawings are often reminiscent of the underground punk and hardcore scene in which he rooted his artistic practice in the early '90s.
In the same years, German artist Stohead started to tag and draw on walls and public spaces, initially with simple forms and circles that later evolved into his own alphabet and characteristic writing style. Equally fascinated by the motion and flow of calligraphy, he took the tagging style from the streets to the canvas, and the writing through various stages of what he calls "decomposition" of the lettering - from clear and strict letters and patterns, to a more abstract style known as Liquid Smoke works.