Traces of Words: Art and Calligraphy from Asia

Opening Party: Thursday, May 11, 7–10 pm. Free admission.

Words and their physical manifestations are explored in this insightful exhibition, which will honour the special significance that written forms, especially calligraphy, hold across the many unique cultures of Asia – a vast geographical area boasting the greatest diversity of languages in the world.

Traces of Words: Art and Calligraphy from Asia will showcase the varied forms of expression associated with writing throughout Asia over the span of different time periods: from Sumerian cuneiform inscriptions, Qu’ranic manuscripts, Southeast Asian palm leaf manuscripts and Chinese calligraphy from MOA’s Asian collection to graffiti art from Afghanistan and contemporary artworks using Japanese calligraphy, and Tibetan and Thai scripts.

Curated by Fuyubi Nakamura (MOA Curator, Asia), the multimedia exhibition will meditate on the physical traces of words — both spoken and recorded — unique to humans. Embodying both the ephemeral and eternal elements innate to the human experience, the cultural significance of words and their artistic representation through calligraphy, painting, digital works and mixed media are examined. Traces of Words will feature works from six international artists — Shamsia Hassani, Kimura Tsubasa, Nortse, Phaptawan Suwannakudt, Yugami Hisao and teamLab.

A full-colour publication, Traces of Words: Art and Calligraphy from Asia edited by Fuyubi Nakamura, featuring essays by leading scholars in the field, and illustrated with the exhibited works, will accompany the exhibition and will be available for purchase at the MOA shop in May.


Satellite Exhibition

Traces of Words: Asian Materials from the UBC Library Collections
In collaboration with UBC’s Asian Library and Rare Books and Special Collections
On view: May 1-31, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, UBC (level 2 foyer).
Free admission.

Opening Weekend Programs

Exploring Ink and Brush: Japanese Calligraphy for Beginners
Saturday, May 13 | 10:30am-12:30pm
Register Here
Curator’s Tour
Saturday, May 13 | 1pm
More Information
The Expressive Art of Japanese Calligraphy: Intermediate Workshop
Saturday, May 13 | 2:30pm-4:30pm
Register Here
Other tours and programs

Image Credits (L to R):
Sisyu + teamLab, What a Loving, and Beautiful World (2011)
Shamsia Hassani, What about the dead fish? (2011)
Kimura Tsubasa, Outline (2007)


May 11 – October 9, 2017


Fuyubi Nakamura

Supporting Sponsors

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Japan Foundation