Mugaku Soen (1720-1791). Ensō is a Japanese word meaning circle and a concept strongly associated with Zen. Ensō is one of the most popular subjects of Japanese calligraphy even though it is a symbol and not a character. It symbolises the Absolute, enlightenment, strength, elegance, the Universe, and the void; it can also symbolise the Japanese aesthetic itself. As an ‘expression of the moment’ it is often considered a form of minimalist expressionist art.
In Zen Buddhist painting, ensō represents a moment when the mind is free to simply let the spirit create. The brushed ink of the circle is usually done on silk or paper in one movement (but sometimes the great Bankei used two strokes) and there is no possibility of modification: it shows the expressive movement of the spirit at that time. Zen Buddhists believe that the character of the artist is fully exposed in how he or she draws an ensō. Only a person who is mentally and spiritually complete can draw a true ensō. Achieving the perfect circle, be it a full moon or an ensō is said to be The Moment of Enlightenment.
November 1st, 2018
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