Thursday, September 21, 2006

Arabic Calligraphy - Words come to life

The absence of figures in the visual culture of Muslims and artists based in Islamic countries has proved to be a blessing in disguise for Arabic Calligraphy, which has evolved into one of the most intricate artforms existing today.

The virtual barring of figures and it's representation among Muslims has always baffled me and to my knowledge, the Quran does not even endorse such a view. I have heard people quoting some verses in the 'hadith' to point out that hanging a painting in your home is 'undesirable' for a Muslim. However, I regard this as an outcome of 'Islamism' (a desire to impose an interpretation of an ideology) or a view which evolved out of a culture and later misinterpreted as a religious diktat.
Calligraphy which literally means 'beautiful writing' may not be fully appreciated without knowing the language that is used. However, Arabic Calligraphy has managed to transcend the language barrier, thanks to the unique aesthetic perfection it achieves and the efforts of various artists and the intricate skill developed over the centuries by proponents of this artform.

Contemporary Arabic Calligraphy reflects new experiments and brings in influences from other artforms, cultures and scripts. Beyond the banal 'dome-shaped arabic logos' being passed off as Arabic Calligraphic creations, the art scene is discovering talent of a different kind. They might not have achieved the same flair as what the traditional artists could do with the 'calamus', but artists like Hassan Massoudy are 'making words dance' indeed, not with reed pens and parchments but with 'opalescent washes, flows of emerald, monochromes of beiges enriched with deep wood tones and sandalwood fragrances'.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

there was a conference some time back at AUD on Arabic calligraphy and typography. twas called kitabat/ the written. like most things today, the focus was kind of rooted in the west vs arab world...that kind of killed the spirit of the topic.


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