This month’s online art exhibition features the work of Michel D’Anastasio, one of today’s leading masters in Hebrew-letter calligraphic art. Among the deep historical ties between the Chinese and Jewish peoples is the written word and symbol. The ancient Chinese tradition of brush calligraphy shares many characteristics with the Jewish laws concerning the production of a Torah. Both are done by hand, take years to master, and are works of art in and of themselves. As this month’s issue of Sh’ma looks at China and its relationship with Israel, Jews, and Judaism, we invite you to reflect upon the beautiful, Hebrew-letter, brush calligraphic art of Michel D’Anastasio and the similarities of our traditions.
About the Artist:
Michel D’Anastasio (b. 1968) first discovered calligraphy in 1989. A year later, he started taking lessons at DUCTUS – the first French calligraphic association – where he met famous calligraphy masters such as Claude Mediavilla, Jean Larcher and Kitty Sabatier who would later become his tutors. During this time, D’Anastasio adopted various styles of occidental calligraphy (English classic, chancellery and modern style writing) and started exploring the basics of Chinese art writing. In 1993, D’Anastasio discovered the modern gestural style of writing — a very deliberate way of making calligraphy — while taking lessons with Bernard Arin in Toulouse. Between 1997 and 2003 he worked closely with Kitty Sabatier, during which time he became skilled in the knowledge and practice of using various calligraphic utensils and materials.
The turning point in D’Anastasio’s artistic career came in the Summer of 2004, after discovering that his Maltese family was of Jewish origin during a trip to the Holy Land. This discovery opened D’Anastasio up to the world of Heberew letters. Since then, D’Anastasio has become one of two major specialists in modern Hebrew calligraphy in Europe, and is world renowned with representation around the globe from Japan, to India, to Russia, to Canada. He is also a well-known teacher in the art of calligraphy.
After a time working in straight calligraphy, D’Anastasio began experimenting with more contemporary takes on his work – i.e., photography. After writing various letters and strings of text, D’Anastasio takes pictures of his calligraphic works in different kinds of lighting to evoke a variety of moods and emotions. The incredible results can be seen in the current exhibition.