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The Asemic Cabinet

Source collection The Asemic Cabinet

Pol Burry

Pol Bury (1922-2005) was a Belgian painter and sculptor, who was part of the Walloon surrealistic movement and the Cobra movement. Interested in the mysterious, the unusual and bizarre, he later became a pioneer of kinetic art.


Simon Vinkenoog

Simon Vinkenoog (1928 - 2009) was a Dutch writer, poet and recitalist. At the age of 21 he started the Dutch literary magazine Blurb. He declared the title as follows: "We no longer believe in finding scabrous words in not yet existing dictionaries and we have therefore chosen: blurb, one meaning is gibberish".


"Drunken" monk Huaisu was known for his unreadable cursive calligraphy. Less than 10 pieces of his works have been preserved. Legend has it that he planted banana trees in the courtyard of the temple where he lived, and used the leaves as paper to practice his art.



The 'lettriste' pur sang Roland Sabatier (1942) devoted himself to theater, film, photography and combines lettrisme, hypergraphy, collage and science. He published a 'novel hypergraphique' and also made a variation on the rayographies of Man Ray. Sabatier called them 'rayogrammes' where not the objects, but handwriting and letters during the development process left their imprint on photographic paper. In his contribution from Lettrisme et hypergraphie collage, hypergraphy and science come together.


Asemic Letters

'Asemic Letters on the Sawn Cut or Pine Tree' is an attempt by Ekaterina Samigulina to restore a pre-Babylonian language, to properties of some ancient (Sumerian, Phoenician, Aramean, Khazar, Vedic, Ancient Chinese, Egyptian, Etc .) translate languages ​​into non-existent script icons.

Henri Michaux

In the 1920s, Henri Michaux, who was influenced by Asian calligraphy and surrealism, began his wordless works such as Alfabet (1925) and Narration (1927). Michaux called his calligraphic works interior signs'.


In 1974 Max Ernst's work Maximiliana was published: 'The illegal practice of astronomy: homage to Dorothea Tanning'; This book has had a big influence on asemic writers.

Brion Gysin

Brion Gysin (1916 - 1986) was a painter, writer, sound poet and performance artist. He is known for his discovery of the cut-up technique, used by William S. Burroughs. However, it was in painting and drawing that Gysin made his greatest contribution by creating calligraphic works inspired by cursive Japanese and Arabic script.

Mirtha Dermisache

Mirtha Dermisache is an artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, who has been using asemic writing in her work since the 1960s. Dermisache said that although her chart has no meaning, they retain the full rights of an autonomous work. Her Diario No. 1 [Dairy No 1] became an emblem of protest against the oppressive political regime in her country.

Isodore Isou

Where Baudelaire renewed the poem, Verlaine and Rimbaud the verse and Mallarmé the word, so Isidore Isou (1925) quits the row as the innovator of the letter. The Romanian prodigy Isou (pseudonym of Jean-Isidore Goldstein) fled Nazis and in 1945 he ended up in Paris. There he established the basic principles of 'lettrism'. Thus, according to Isou, the letter stands at the basis of every poetry as an act of creation, as a sign, image and sound.


Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly (1928 - 2011) was an American artist and an important representative of abstract expressionism. His paintings during the fifties and sixties were strongly influenced by calligraphy and graffiti.


León Ferrari was an artist who created many asemic works in the sixties and seventies. The younger Ferrari started with techniques such as collage, photocopy and sculpture in wood, plaster or ceramics. Later he often used text, especially newspaper clippings or poetry, with subjects such as power and religion.

Xu Bing

In the eighties the Chinese artist Xu Bing 'Tianshu', or 'Book from Heaven', made a book and hanging scrolls on which 4000 hand-carved characters were printed. The book, which consists of four volumes totaling 604 pages, was printed in a single print of 126 copies between 1987 and 1991.

Codex Seraphinianus

Luigi Serafini (born 1949 in Rome) is an Italian artist and designer. He is best known for his Codex Seraphinianus from 1981, an illustrated encyclopaedia of imaginary things in a - thought to be - constructed language.

Christian Dotremont

Christian Dotremont (1922 - 1979) was a Belgian painter, graphic artist, poet and writer, and together with Joseph Noiret the two Belgians who were involved in the foundation of the Cobra movement. Characteristic of his work is the use of his own handwriting, in order to write and draw self-invented poems, the so-called logograms.

Rosaire Appel

Artist and writer Rosaire Appel fills her books with abstract strips, prints and erased poems, exploring the boundaries between image and written word. Apple considers books as holders of new visual meanings by using a variety of brands and linguistic references.

Michael Jacobson

Michael Jacobson is an asemic writer and artist. He brings language, words and symbols to another area. On the internet he keeps his blog 'The New Post-Literate: A Gallery of Asemic Writing’.

Tim Gaze

Tim Gaze is an Australian poet, visual artist, editor and publisher of magazines of experimental poetry. He continues the Lettrist tradition of hypergraph, believing that visual poetry and sound density can exceed languages, and even go beyond writing systems.

Jean Degottex

Jean Degottex (1918 - 1988) was a French abstract painter, member of the Lyrical Abstraction movement of the fifties and sixties. He has gradually moved his work from gesture and drawing to writing, and from writing to the line. His interest in Eastern calligraphy and Zen philosophy led to increasingly minimal work.

Kunizo Matsumoto

Kunizo Matsumoto (1962) worked as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant. From 1985 to 1988 he attended creative workshops for mentally disabled people, where he became interested in calligraphy. Matsumoto was fascinated by the notes that the staff of the establishment wrote in small notebooks and tried to reproduce them, although he had never learned to write. He then developed his own personal writing.

Paul Klee

Paul Klee has shifted the traditional boundaries within the visual arts by exploring the expression and largely abstract or poetic language of symbols and signs. Arrows, letters, musical notation or ancient hieroglyphics are common in his work, while they rarely demand a specific reading.

Rachid Koraïchi

Rachid Koraïchi is an Algerian artist. Starting from the intricate beauties of Arabic calligraphic scripts, his work is composed of symbols, glyphs and codes that come from a wide range of other languages ​​and cultures.

Gabriel Lalonde

Gabriel Lalonde is an autodidact poet and visual artist from Canada. He explores the poetic languages time after time, in all kinds of materials: from wood to metal, from canvas to paper.

Ung-no Lee

Ung-no Lee (1904 - 1989) was a Korean-born French painter and printer of prints. In the 1950s, he emphasized calligraphic freedom with his paint strips, making his work visually close to informal art.

John Bunion (JB) Murray

John Bunion (JB) Murray (1908-1988) was an illiterate farmer who, after a religious vision, produced a remarkable oeuvre of abstract paintings in the last decade of his life, which are paradoxical in the light of the limitations of his circumstances Unable to read or write, Murray invented his own language in his images.

Oera Linda

Oera Linda is the name that was given to a manuscript in pseudorum script published in 1867. According to the publisher, it was a centuries-old chronicle, written in a previously unknown runic script, but it turned out to be a forgery. According to the text of the book, the manuscript dates from the year 1256 and the story would have been copied many times before. However, research showed that the paper was manufactured by machine, probably in the 1850s in Maastricht.

Hélène Smith

Hélène Smith (1861 - 1929) was a famous French clairvoyant from the second half of the 19th Century, who claimed that she was a reincarnation of a Hindu princess and Marie Antoinette. She also claimed that she communicated with residents of Mars. She wrote down the Martian messages and translated them into French, thereby popularizing automatic writing.

Austin Osman Reserve

Austin Osman Reserve (1886 - 1956) was an English artist and occultist who worked as a draftsman and painter. With his occult gifts he developed idiosyncratic magical techniques, including automatic writing and automatic drawing on the basis of his theories about the relationship between the conscious and unconscious self.

Tao Magic

Taoist graphic art (Tao Magic) is first and foremost practical magic: it is designed to protect, heal, bring success to daily businesses and to ensure longevity, health and happiness.

Wosene Worke Kosrof

Wosene Worke Kosrof (1950) is an Ethiopian painter, best known for his inventive portrayals of the Amharic script. Amharic is derived from the ancient language Geez and one of the few indigenous written systems in Africa.


Kohau Rongorongo is the name of the tablets with the unciphered script of Easter Island. In Polynesian kohau is "stick" and rongorongo "singers". There are still 26 examples with the script, of which five are false.

Volodymyr Bilyk

Volodymyr Bilyk is a writer, translator and visual artist from Ukraine. His work includes visual poems in different series.

The Voynich manuscript

The Voynich manuscript is a mysterious, illustrated manuscript with a misunderstood content. It was written by an unknown author in the 15th century. The script, written in an unknown language, has not yet been deciphered.

Zhang Xu

The history of contemporary asemic writing stems from the Chinese calligrapher Zhang Xu, a calligrapher from the Tang dynasty (circa 800 CE) who was famous for his wild and unreadable characters.

Pierre Alechinsky

Pierre Alechinsky (1927) is a Belgian artist who joined the Cobra group in 1949. In 1954, Alechinsky came into contact with Chinese painting and oriental calligraphy via the Chinese painter Walasse Ting, who would strongly influence his work.

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