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Sleight of Hand

Fábio Rodrigues

Energy, presence, aesthetic, and expressive force

Fábio Rodrigues paints in the Zen Shodo tradition.Classic Shodo is a single character often done in a single stroke, without lifting the brush from the paper. According to the ancient masters “the white should be read as black.”

From the age of 12 to 20, I studied artistic drawing with Norberto Niebuhr, a great teacher who taught me not only drawing, but also how to live in more compassionate and lucid ways. Drawing formed me as a person: It was a way of thinking, living, and perceiving the world. Niebuhr’s impact on my life was truly so important and deep that it was a big loss for me when he died in 2001.

I also studied and worked in graphic and fashion design for 12 years, but working in publicity and fashion corporations undermined my interest and joy in visual arts. I began to practice and study Buddhism and meditation and discovered that what I was doing professionally did not fit my priorities anymore. I quit fashion designing in 2009 and stopped drawing. I really didn’t think that I could find joy in it again.

A couple of years later, however, I felt my interest reawake after reading master calligrapher Kazuaki Tanahashi’s book Brushmind. The idea of using visual arts as a means for helping myself and others to cultivate human flourishing, an open heart, a more balanced mind, energy and attitude was like a breath of life for me. I have since been studying with Kaz Sensei as his apprentice for three years now and it’s been a challenging and joyful journey so far!

We give the world and people an honest gestural mark of our expression. When practicing or painting a piece, one can move with the brush, cultivating qualities such as relaxation, vividness, and creativity with motivation, emotions and attention—it is meditation in motion. When enjoying a piece, we’re focusing on the content—its meaning and subtle qualities, the energy, presence, aesthetic and expressive force with which it was written.

My current teacher is Kazuaki Tanahashi Sensei. Other contemporary artists who inspire me are Fabienne Verdier, Mayumi Oda, Toko Shinoda and Yoichi Inoue.

For information on individual works, see Fábio’s profile on lettering.com.

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