Written Arabic in abstract forms

An annual exhibition held through the holy month of Ramadan, Kalimat exhibits artworks engraved with Arabic lettering; the motive behind the exhibition being to make it culturally relevant in order to embody the essence of the holy month. The exhibition held last year showcased a combination of traditional calligraphy along with some abstract contemporary work, focusing on the evolution of the form.

By Mrudvi Bakshi

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Published: Fri 20 Aug 2010, 9:42 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:23 PM

“This year we only focus on contemporary work, and the reason for our themes this year to be culturally relevant is our idea of staying true to our goals, which is to create a platform for showcasing the work of emerging artists,” says Fathima Mohiudin, visual arts and special projects manager at DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates. From abstract art to digital creations and sculptures, the exhibition is an elegant symbolism of artworks created simply by using letters.

The use of lettering and words in artwork has come across as a contemporary approach, but it seems even more interesting in the case of Arabic lettering. The grace and elegance in the lettering can be interpreted in an aesthetic manner; while what the words mean and the lines convey can be interpreted literally. Some of the artists even talk about using Arabic lettering in a way non-Arabic speakers can appreciate.

The artists at Kalimat are from all over the world, communicating their individual messages through their work. Jordanian artist Julia Ibbini bases her work on her personal experience, which she refers to as an “internal landscape”. The layers and details that comprise her piece are defined by personal emotions, concepts and, sometimes, just experiences from everyday life. The Arabic written words formed the basis for her inspiration, and are used to reflect daily life. Her pieces revolve around the concept of “belonging”, defining the universal human struggle for a sense of identity. She is of the belief that what one holds as a person can offer a great sense of belonging and peace, than one defined by a “manufactured” definition of identity.

Artist Saleh Al Shukairi from Oman whose painting is the largest at the exhibition explains the physical act of writing calligraphy as central to his art. A few of his works consist of rhythmic patterns, which play a significant part in his work. The characters, words and text in Saleh’s paintings are applied in layers, due to which patterns develop like divisions, accentuating the graphic and lyrical character of his abstract calligraphy.

Saleh’s paintings are done with materials one possibly wouldn’t immediately think to use — from reed or steel pens to sticks, self-made cola pens, fragments of glass, pigments, acrylic paint, wax, glue and sands from all over the world. The base of the calligraphic texts are made from a variety of classical types of papers, hand-made from industrial celluloses, natural materials as well as recycled materials, and his paintings reflect a good inspiration of free hand styles.

Julia and Saleh are just two names amidst the vivid display of professionalism in the lanes of The Gallery of Light at Manu Chhabria Arts Centre, DUCTAC. Visit the Kalimat exhibition, which runs until the September 13, to give your eyes a visual treat.


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