A brush with car calligraphy

A brush with car calligraphy

An artist lends her freestyle calligraphic touch to a fancy new white car.

By Nivriti Butalla

Published: Fri 17 Apr 2015, 12:48 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:21 PM

Blue, Yellow, Bronze and black ... Reem Al Rawi painting Arabic letters on the car. — Supplied photo

Dubai — For the last three days on the ground floor of Wafi Mall, an artist, with small white earphones plugged to the phone in her back pocket, has been painting a big white car.

Reem Al Rawi, university lecturer in design, who finished her lectures for the day before coming to the site, has on her palette blue, yellow, bronze and black. And for three days, from front to back, she has been painting Arabic letters on the car.

It’s a curious sight — an Audi 7 getting a facelift. Grey paint is being dabbed around the license plate  ‘A7 50 TFSI quattro’. People stop to look, see what she’s doing, and take pictures.  The earphones probably hinder people from interrupting Reem’s artistic absorption.

Organised by Dubai Culture’s, the paintbrush calisthenics are part of the Dubai International Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition.

Freestyle calligraphy

Today is the third day I’ve been working on the project, she says when we make eye contact and smile and she puts away the palette and unplugs the earphones for the moment to talk briefly.

“I do paintings — canvas and design and stuff — but this is the first time I have actually painted on a car,” she says. And she won’t paint another car even if approached. There’s a novelty factor in painting just the one. “No repeats,” she says. “This is a special contribution to the calligraphy exhibition”.

I’m almost done,” she says, “Probably another day, this just needs refining”. She’s used acrylic colours. “I start with a black and then it starts — there’s a gradient, greys and then blues on the side”.

Was it impromptu, the decision of the colours, what exactly she wanted to paint and how? “I knew the concept, I knew what I wanted to do, I was visualising the dark colours as it’s a white car and it gives it more contrast. And I was thinking if people see it from a distance, how would it look.”

What does it say?

“It’s Arabic letters in freestyle of calligraphy. I’m trying to emphasise the speed of the car so if you look from the front, it has the effect that if the car goes at a fast speed, the letters scatter on the sides. So I’m giving it motion, and the form and shape of the car also helps.” It’s a brand new car — a 2015 model — and Al Rawi is not sure whether it is to be auctioned after she lays the finishing strokes. “It might be on display at their showroom”. She laughs when asked, is your back hurting? “No, no. It’s a lot of fun. You feel the pain at night, but it’s just ... it’s not labour, it’s a social event.”

People’s reactions have been interesting.  “They take pictures, they try to figure out what I wrote, some of them ask me is it for sale, they want to buy it.” Is Reem written anywhere, yet? “Not yet, I’ll sign it in the end when I’m done, at the back or something”.


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