Beyond the Letter: Modern Arabic Calligraphy

‘Beyond the Letter’ highlights 27 outstanding works of art from the collection of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. The exhibition opened at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization on March 28 and will run until June 23, 2018.
The exhibition ‘Beyond the Letter’ is collaboration between Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) and The Sharjah Museums Authority, United Arab Emirates. This is a second time collaboration after the first successful exhibition entitled Rhythm & Verses: Masterpieces of Persian Calligraphy from the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in 2016. ‘Beyond the Letter’ coincides with the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennale.
The exhibition conveys the hidden intellectual messages through the contemporary approach of Islamic calligraphy by artists from various part of the world. The visitors will experiences the philosophical meaning of these exquisite masterpieces which reflects the entangled forces of nature; the waves of the oceans; the rooted plants; the cosmos’ order of the universe and the heavenly forces of nature.

“The power of calligraphy cannot truly be understood unless one views it in proximity with the calligraphers’ surrounding nature. Thus, nature acts as the educator and mentor. The calligrapher does not attempt to replicate nature, yet reinterprets the beauty of God’s creation in abstract forms. Aided with letters and words, the calligrapher builds compositions that reflects nature; showing the movement of flocking birds, dense and strong, with letters moving across the surface of the canvas inspiring the viewer to listen to the echoes of the fluttering wings. The calligrapher takes us into the deep arid desert and reveals the rhythmic configuration of the sand dunes, in a burning sun composition. Through single letters and words, the calligrapher reflects the spiritual qualities of God’s creations.” expressed Dr Heba Nayel Barakat, the curator of Beyond the Letter and the Head of Curator of Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia.

The ‘Beyond the Letter’ exhibition features works by several Iranian artists such as Mohsen Daeinabi, Ali Jamshidi, Mehrdad Shoghi, Mohammad Bozorgi, Ali Shirazi, Maryam Ghanbarian, and Ebrahim Olfat who have already won a number of international awards and have exhibited their works in various exhibitions and art museums around the world.

Ahmed Moustafa, an Egyptian artist based in London hold philosophy of art provides a scientific point of reference for a rational understanding, a reasoned appreciation of Islamic art in general and of Arabic calligraphy in particular. Malaysia is represented by Ahmad Dhiya’ bin Abdul Ghafur, who is the youngest artist to participate in the exhibition. Influenced by his father at an early age, he developed his own style and skills and trained in Kufic, Naskh, Thuluth, Riqa’, Nastaliq and Divani classical writing scripts. Breaking the wall of Islamic calligraphy which is usually associated with Islamic countries, Fuad Kouichi Honda strokes invoke the life in his calligraphy art.
For Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, the collaboration demonstrates its ongoing commitment to provide a platform for the artist from across the Islamic world to display their works.
‘Beyond the Letter’ offers to art lovers a range of art of calligraphy works, some of which are first time exhibited in the UAE. It is indeed a great collaboration between these two institutions to promote the work of calligraphers around the world.

The exhibition will be on view at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization until June 23, 2018.

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