Mongolian calligraphy | Performance
Permanent exhibition in the calligraphy centre in Kharkhorin, Mongolia.
Mouth of steel, 2019
In the heart of Mongolia
Ulan Bator, 2019
'The demon within'
Awakening of Sirrael
Painting in the storm
I bought myself an apple. Around the middle of May, I became an owner of an iPad.Originally it was just a practical decision that soon turned into a gate into the world of digital art. I have not dismissed my brushes, my collection of fountain pens and Molotow markers are too precious. I was simply very interested in working differently and comparing it with my earlier works. Few years old works to be precise. And let’s start with that:The year 2012, my friend’s nickname. Chochkin.Using charcoal, I wrote on plain paper and was sending people’s names for their birthdays.
This simple throwback feels like archeology – gradually I find my mistakes and see improvements. . It’s been 8 years and it is laughable. All the time spent learning the basics and slowly getting better. It is an amazing process and I enjoy calligraphy even more today. And I still post words for people on social media. This time the tables have turned, and people ask for words they wish to see.A bear.And what have you been up to 8 years back? What changes do you see in yourself and others?Let me know!And as always, art on!Fux Karachovič
Even though it may not be your first guess and it is quite far on foot, the Czech Republic has many common details with Mongolia. Be it formerly functional Karosa buses in Ulaanbaatar, or Mongolian students in Prague in the seventies. Never would I have guessed it possible to speak Czech and be understood in Mongolia. But all you need is to accept an invitation from the Czech Embassy and to arrive at a yearly party of such students. And suddenly you find yourself drinking Becherovka with aged Mongolians who are amused by your beard.The second amusing detail is Czech students in Ulaanbaatar. Boarding a plane without having a phone number or two of students of Mongolian studies would be a shame, to say the least. Who else would tell you where to get a beer, where to eat, and which places to avoid? Adventuring through the black market alone just wouldn’t do the trick.Now it gets interesting: the students know each other. You catch some names and they dwell in your head silently. Then you attend a reception at the Embassy; meet a Czech-Mongolian interpreter and her boyfriend. A year passes. Then you find yourself looking for a person who would help you with the language. An email to Mongolian studies and everyone around. You get a person and a month later you listen to rap and read the manga. All because the world just spins by itself and they both live in Pilsen. I work on the language with him and it all just comes together (apart from the rap/manga situation, but that is a topic for next time).Being faithful to my promise to share Mongolia with you, I want to emphasize the interpreter Klára Kočková. She also writes a blog, Khar shar, a black ox. The name comes from an animal that is used to pull wagons and also palace yurts, but that was a long time ago.The moment I learned about her blog, I had to read it all. That should not be surprising. Some of them are experiences of a student in Mongolia, despite the cold and heat, others are translations of classic Mongolian literature. So if you are interested in Mongolian humour or Ode to Altai, waste no time.Art on!Fux Karachovič
Khuushuur the Czech way
If you ever went to my presentation about Mongolia, you sure remember the part about food. Be it buuz dumplings, milk tea suutee tsee or khuushuur. As Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction debates the topic of breakfast and finds out where to get the Big Kahuna burger, you could debate places to eat in Mongolia. Where do you get the best buuz? Khaan Buuz would be one of the places for sure.With a vivid image of Mongolian food, I never thought that I could create something even remotely epic at home. But I had hope! (Even though I don’t have many illusions about my cooking skills.)
Luckily I have friends in Ulaanbaatar. A colleague of mine, Sergelen Bayasgalan, who accompanied me to a few such buuz places, sent a recipe. Naadam khuushuur. And what started as a quick thought, missing lunch, and a Youtube quirk was a meal. The recipe is HERE. Photos as well:All is in place. Those who can read (and speak Czech) will realize I was shopping for beef and came home with pork. Stuff happens.A ball of dough is an amazing thing. If you are looking to tire your hands or make a face mask.The big ball is made into small ones, then rolled, then balls again, but with meat. A bit repetitive I must say. Especially when you do not have 300g of meat but 500g, and try to stretch the recipe accordingly. Apparently, the recipe was for a very hungry family of six.Dough balls with meat, repeat the rolling process. Improvise with a bottle of future sauce.Got the meat pancakes, seeing through the dough, time to put it into oil for some great shapes and diet.While frying the khuushuur some of them were snatched by hunger, so some photos are missing. Violators were not punished.Experimental khuushuur eating:a) Khuushuur and coffee -> YESb) Khuushuur and scrambled eggs -> YESc) Khuushuur and tomatoes -> YESd) Khuushuur and khuushuur -> YES.End of experiment. Buuz next time.Art (and food) on.
Four months in Mongolia and the one time I didn’t go anywhere
One of the things you simply do not expect during a chill family weekend is four subsequent heart attacks. One per day on average, probably to let me know it won’t slow down. Two messages on Messenger, a discussion, and a phone call to wrap it up.1
It all started with a message from Tamir. After greeting me with „Salut, ca va?“ he set off where we left off in May last year – a plan to create a wonderful project near Kharkhorin, the former capital of Mongolia, where I am to participate. To be exact: I am to help with decorations, and creativity and to represent the rest of the non-Mongolian world. And also I am to arrive in March and stay until September. HEART ATTACK No. 1. Even though I knew there weren't many of us, five fingers would suffice for non-Mongolian, but Tamir searched and has not found anyone else. Only the two of us. And the other one was busy. After some time of focused breathing, and a shot of whisky, I sat down and started planning 2020 as a year of wonderful wonders.2
Day two, a message from the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Mongolia. I am to prepare and send a draft for an art project about improving air pollution awareness in the capital city and thus support the cause. HEART ATTACK No. 2. I sent the draft, inverted calligraphy was a clear choice. Then had another shot and added one more month of calligraphy into 2020.3
The third shock happened the moment I realized that Tamir’s project overlaps with the pollution project. HEART ATTACK No. 3. Shot, armchair, debate. For a long time, I would not have guessed such things would be happening, not to imagine they would overlap. And Tamir won that round of time decisions.4
On the fourth day, a phone call. „Hey Fux, we are looking for a traveller who would go with Tatra kolem světa (Tatra around the world) to accompany them through Mongolia.” Goodbye, much obliged, my heart rate bid farewell and the heart stopped beating for a while. HEART ATTACK No. 4. I was lucky in this case, no overlap and the month of travelling was right after Tamir’s project. I met the leader of the adventure, we spoke a bit, and I started planning some more.And then someone did not cook their bat well. Then people travelled with a virus. Then Mongolia closed its borders. Then Czechia closed its borders. Then I stayed at home for a month, Tatra got stuck in Turkey, and Tamir stayed in Poland.And so the year 2020 crumbled into pieces along with most of the plans.So for now I am not going anywhere – now the most exciting adventure was a trip to the kitchen and sometimes to get some wine. But that is some serious travelling.Hopefully in autumn, perhaps spring 2021. Will see you later, zero ideas now. But I can’t and won’t stop creating, and online workshops can happen as well.Art on, let’s share Mongolia remotely for now.Fux KarachovičTamir, full name Tamir Samandbadraa Purev, is an amazing calligrapher, originally from Mongolia, now living partially in France.
Fux shares Mongolia
Twice and that’s it? I already flew to Ulaanbaatar via Moscow, and it was an awesome experience every time. Mongolia is the same – great every time. I always find something that surprises me and shows me new horizons... Sometimes literally.This year I’m going on my third trip. And it’ll be long. Almost four months of traveling, calligraphy, new insights, people, and experiences. I kept the first trip in a diary. During the second, I gave up writing altogether and sent a photo or a piece of text from time to time. Well, the third time I’ll provide a full service. Photos, scripts, writings, and shocking details.You’ll find everything under #FuxSharesMongolia.(Almost) a daily dose of Mongolia will contain:
• specks of Mongolian language (i.e. the word magic is literally magical)
• photos of interesting places, yurts, Mongolians, horses, yogurts, and so on
• vlogs about the whole process
• Mongolian music (even Mongolian rap is entertaining despite my lack of rap tolerance)I could add randomness as the last item on the list, as there are such things happening around me pretty much nonstop. Sometimes I barely believe it has happened. But that is just my life.Is there anything specific you would be interested in? Let me know!And art on, of course.
#FuxSharesMongoliaAnd the first music piece is here: Taazaa hudlug! Move your hips!
Enjoy the movement of a brush
A beautiful day, the end of a creative year, and a couple of hours before New Year’s Eve. All the paints, brushes, and markers were in my bag. During the past six months, I managed to have one workshop and one live performance per month. It would be sad to spend the 30th of December doing anything else...
I chose two words as a topic. Usually, there is a thin line between them. Love and hate. Can you see it?It was our first cooperation with Ms. Z and I was very interested in how she perceived it. I even got it in writing so you can read it yourself:Fux: Was this your first time being a model? How did you feel?
Ms. Z: Yes, it was my first time. I was looking forward to it quite a lot. The concoction of feelings settled after a while, and even the anxiety disappeared. I tried to enjoy the movement of the brush on my body as much as possible.F: During the whole performance you are just a canvas. How did that feel?
Z: I really was a canvas, but surprisingly mainly during the time when you were just observing me and thinking. Possibly about which character to write and where.F: What was going through your head?
Z: That is hard to say. I was thinking about whether everything is the way it is supposed to be. If we have enough wine. I was watching you thinking, writing, and I was imagining what it would look like.F: Would you go for it again?
Z: No doubt, it was a very pleasant evening. :)F: I am very glad to hear that, we’ll do it very soon!
We shall see what the next session will look like. I have a few ideas, about the topic as well. Now we can just look forward to it!And one more thing – in the next issue you will see how it was perceived by Ms.’s Z boyfriend who was right next to us.Art on!Fux Karachovič
During the two last events, be it in May in Mongolia or at Plechova huba, it was not possible to miss an item I sought after for a long time in the Czech Republic. And I got to Ulaanbaatar under strange circumstances.Imagine flying to Mongolia to perform calligraphy in Sukhbaatar square, and for that, you have ordered a brush from China. The second thought is easy, it is only a bit south, and that should be a piece of cake. The idea is perfect, planning on point, and all paid upfront. All you can do is wait for the package.
The original vision was a 150 cm long brush. A big performance, a big brush. The order was handled by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ulaanbaatar, which also received it. The unboxing of a thin long item began and we could not wait to see it live. Well, the word “beauty” does not cover any part of it. The picture shows what had arrived.The Embassy and I were promised a marvel. False. 4 single hairs and a bamboo gardening stick. I was even ashamed to carry it outside of the building. Not to speak about a performance for an audience. With this toothbrush, I could maybe swipe the pavement hoping it would break, explode, and end my torture.
None of that happened. Actually, the drama was handled quite well. I called my friend Serg, also a calligrapher, for advice. We tried different inks and papers, and the results were… zero. That expensive tomato stick was useless.So I packed it again and back to China it went.
I won’t have this.Luckily, Mongolia is a land of calligraphy. Already the third art supplies shop had what I was looking for. 80 centimetres instead of 150, but still. It was Mr. Brush. Half a yak of hair, the handle was perfect and we got along very well.
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And with a few performances behind us already, we are looking forward to more. Let’s hope to see you there too.
The mouth of Steel – The chili eating contest
A few weeks ago I set a canvas on fire. Again. It is one of the things I like about calligraphy so much. Not just setting things, people, ground, or myself on fire, but live performances in general. There were two big ones in 2019. One postapocalyptic show on Junktown, and a while before that a splendid event on the main square in the capital of Mongolia. I enjoyed each in a different way, but both were live, wild, and full of action.“Plechova huba” (Mouth of Steel) is a yearly event for special fire experienced through eating chilli peppers. I believe even the grass outside must have caught on fire. I was invited there by one of the organizers – Otus Hobst. For those who attended my Junktown event, he was the one in charge of the music. The rest of you can check his profile.I named the performance “I am the Firestarter.”
One of the reasons was the date – 28th October. A national holiday in the Czech Republic. On this day Czechoslovakia was established. I believe you can imagine the connection, even though not many of us can remember it.The supporting music was … wait for it … Prodigy, Firestarter. Accompanied by Mongolian metal and throat singing.One of the non-living actors was Mr Brush. A good friend whom I brought from Ulaanbaatar. Counting the hair, he is 80 cm tall. With ink, he weighs almost 2 kilograms. A real pleasure to work with him.Which canvas format suits him the best? Being such a colossus requires at least 20 metres long, and 1,5 wide. I settled at 5 metres. After all, it should be enough, right? Mr Brush did not complain, sucked in the ink, spilt some on the concrete and paper, and wrote a few beautiful words. And the audience was satisfied as well.Truth be told, a canvas on fire with ink and paints is not too common in the Czech Republic. That is why I spoke to the audience for a while to explain what just happened. And a video will be out as well, but for now, check the photos.A great event indeed. Both calligraphy and consensual suffering of chilli-eaters. I would really enjoy more similar events.Were you there?And as always – Art on!
Pain and Freedom
“What do you want me to write?“
"I don’t know, anything.“And suddenly, silence. What does she want me to write? What do I want to write?
I used to write on people very often at parties, and most of the answers were the same. What would it be? I don’t know. Often they chose their name and that was it. The usual solution was to ask for a favourite animal and the art was set (on the skin). The other was to take what came up first – a part of my poem. The result was to have nice Mongolian writing and that was it. I was supposed to write anything and anything was written. But is there any grand design? Is it something that will stay at least in that person’s mind? I guess not...Once you can do anything, buy anything, or create anything, paralysis will emerge. Being confronted and stuck with so many opportunities. The fear of not choosing the best, or not choosing anything at all, applies to art as well as to many other fields. A blank canvas awaits your creations. But where would I place the first dot? What colour to use?One great solution to overcoming such paralysis is creating restrictions. If such a limit is not set from the start, I would add it myself. Anything is still better than nothing. I would write only words starting with M. I would throw some paint on the canvas and write without touching them. Toss a coin. The brain suddenly starts working in a different mode, it enjoys solving a problem and then there is action.Limitations are a great creative impulse, making the choices a lot more fun.How would you limit the preparations for an exhibition? All ideas are equal. Let me know!Art on!
The calm before the storm and during the storm
After years of working with scripts and creating calligraphy, I noticed an interesting effect on myself. Once the mind is tired, unsure, or simply out of order, I grab the nearest brush and ink. Or a simple pencil, and I write. Whatever the words... These are sometimes random, sometimes specific texts. The important thing is the process itself, not the meaning of those words.Such writing does not need to last an hour. If I want to calm my mind, it can take just a few minutes. Not that an hour would do any harm, but sometimes that is exactly what happens. Some time ago, writing for peace of mind was an active exercise. Nowadays, it is a subconscious reaction. It takes some time for me to realize I am holding a pencil and that there is a piece of paper filled with words in front of me. It is similar to meditation, but not with the purpose of stopping thinking about everything. The mind should be focused on only one thing. On the stroke of the brush, circle, feeling of the paper, and slight hush of the pen.I love that process. The pencil or a pen will completely change the mindset within minutes. For the exercise to have long-term results, it is vital to “meditate” regularly and for a long period of time. But even a small change is worth it.I have been testing these thoughts during the past few months in workshops, and it works marvelously. It is astonishing how much the mind is relaxed when it may focus only on one thing. Just create in peace and not have to think about anything else. Just to be clear – not thinking about anything else is the necessary state, not just a recommendation. And calligraphy is the perfect tool.
So just a few more tests and the workshops will be available. I cannot keep this just to myself.Stay tuned, it will be a ride.
Art on!Fux Karachovič
Passengers, captain talking, four days to liftoff
Before I get on the plane, it is vital to check the equipment. Passport, visa, rubles for coffee in Moscow, and tugriks for a taxi from the airport in Ulaanbaatar. Then just sit and fall asleep, ideally – the time difference is six hours and arrival at six in the morning. And that is the beginning of Saturday. First day of a business trip to Mongolia.By the end of May, there are European days, and I shall be part of the representatives of the Czech Republic on Sukhbaatar Square. If everything goes well, there will even be a live stream! Then come the preparations, schedule alignment, and meeting the GIANT BRUSH.Being 150 cm long, it represents a bit of a challenge to get used to it. It is true, however, that whoever held a broom before got a head start – but it will be hilarious anyway. And it shall accompany me, so fanfare – it is a dream come true! The Giant brush will be finally mine.Do not worry; you will get a chance to see the Giant brush even on the Czech soil – a month later I will introduce it on JunkTown. Just do not forget to check on my blog in a week for more details.On the Square I will cooperate with other artists, some of them will be present at Prague Quadriennale which is an exhibition of various art forms which takes place every four years. The event will be great for sure.
Check Facebook and Instagram for photos, details, and live streams.Captain over and out.Art on!
Fux @Fux Karachovič
From Israel to Mongolia in 10 years
Every now and then someone asks why have I chosen the Mongolian script. I do enjoy talking to people about calligraphy and Mongolia, but why keep the information just to myself? I wish to spread the word even to those who I don’t meet often.Before I fell for this beautiful country and script, I studied Hebrew at primary school. The script was great, the teacher was Jewish, and I was part of a group of people who were repairing Jewish cemeteries in Moravia (Czech Republic). Later, the great saga of Lord of the Rings came, and I felt the urge to learn the dwarven runes (there was only a little step towards Nordic scripts) and Tengwar (elven script, I can highly recommend). With one more step, I started studying Sanskrit at university and its incredible script of Devanaghari. At this stage, it was impossible not to learn Cyrillic.
Suddenly, love at first sight. I was studying general linguistics and one of the lectures covered the “Chinese and barbaric languages”. Up to this day, I don’t understand why Mongolian was barbaric. During one lesson the teacher showed us a book that changed my life. It was covered in the Classic Mongolian script and I knew I had to learn it. Which proved to be a hard task as, at that point, I didn’t even know what the script was called.
Seven years later I know the alphabet. I have many friends in Mongolia, fellow calligraphers and there is not a day I do not wield a marker or a brush and write. I have no intention of changing it. There is no other script I find more beautiful than this one. I tried most of the other scripts, tried their calligraphy but they lack the flow. I will simply go on writing this vertical beauty, experiment, but I will never leave it. Love, at first sight, stays for life.
On the other hand, development cannot be stopped and so did not the evolution of the Classic Mongolian. One of the following topics will be covering different types of Mongolian script, how it evolved, and why it was introduced by the great Chinggis Khaan.Art on!
Salsa and calligraphy in Ulan Bator
Starting this blog to summarize what is going on around me and in the world of calligraphy. Jumping down the rabbit hole and hoping to find something interesting. Let’s hop and hope.Last October I went to Mongolia for a full month to explore, create connections and get to know the country. Two weeks of travelling and two weeks of urban exploration in the capital city – Ulaan Baatar (UB). Without any specific idea I simply dove into the streets and found a very lively city full of interesting places. And with the luck of my own I realized there is a lot of salsa dancing going on, almost daily one can dance his shoes off. I met a wonderful guy Ihab, British gent, who brought salsa to UB, many great dancers and wonderful sights from the top floors where we danced. It didn’t take long, and I was approached by a European looking couple and that was one of the best coincidences of my whole trip.
It went like this:Couple: “Hi, where are you from?”
Me: “Czech Republic. And you?”
Couple: “So we can continue in Czech, right? We are from the Czech Embassy in UB.”So, we chatted for a while and as it went very well, after a few other meetings I was invited to come to Mongolia again. This May. The European days are taking place in UB and Czech Republic had to be represented. No-one turns down such an offer. As I like to explore ideas and options, I decided to show something extraordinary. The stage will be set on the Sukhbaatar square and I shall perform with a brush of 150cm. For years I was hoping to get the chance to create with such a brush and finally it is here. On such a great event.My plane leaves in 3 weeks, there is a lot to prepare, but the excitement is there, and I cannot wait. I will keep you posted.Art on, my friends.