Exhibition: Journey of a Letter
HE Sheikh Salem bin Abdulrahman Al Qasimi, chairman of the Sharjah Ruler’s Office, inaugurated the “Journey of a Letter” exhibition at the Sharjah Calligraphy Museum.
The opening was in the presence of H.E. Mohammad Ahmad Al Murr, Chairman of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library Foundation, Salem Ali Salem Ahmed Al Muhairi Chairman of Sharjah Municipality Council, Asma Rashid Bin Taliah, Secretary-General of the Executive Council of the emirate of Sharjah, and Aisha Rashid Deemas, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority.
Organised by Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA), the show runs from September 25 through November 30, comes in line with the Authority’s mission to elevate the stature of Arabic calligraphy and art and reflects its commitment to offering platforms for artists and calligraphers through specialized exhibitions aimed at disseminating this rich cultural heritage to a broad local and international audience.
Aisha Rashid Deemas, Director General of SMA, emphasized the exhibition’s significance, “The exhibition embodies Sharjah Museums Authority’s commitment to advancing culture and art, particularly through the medium of Arabic calligraphy. It shines a light on the evolving artistry and skills of Wissam Shawkat in this arena over the years.” She further noted that the Authority is keen on positioning museums as cultural hubs that foster dialogue and understanding across diverse cultures while promoting education and appreciation for this ancient artistic discipline.
The exhibition showcases a diverse collection of the artist’s paintings, reflecting his distinct journey and innovative approaches to Arabic calligraphy, including works that encompass various scripts like Thuluth, Diwani, Jali Thuluth, Ruq’aa, and his creation, the Al Wissam script. It also showcases artworks created in his contemporary “Calligraforms” style, where he enlarges intricate details within the letters and incorporates geometric shapes. His approach in these artworks brings out the geometric forms and intricate details in letters, creating a captivating visual experience.
The exhibition traces the artistic evolution of Wissam Shawkat in the realm of Arabic calligraphy, beginning from his childhood. His initial fascination with Arabic letters displayed on the classroom blackboard set the stage for his artistic endeavours, which commenced at the age of ten under the mentorship of his primary school teacher, Mohamed Reda Suhail and his parents. Along this journey, one pivotal phase that marked the advancement of his skill and mastery was his extensive reading and interactions with various scholars and visits to museums and libraries across diverse regions.
Calligrapher and artist Wissam Shawkat conveyed his delight over Sharjah Museums Authority’s exhibition’s organisation, stating, “I’m thrilled to offer visitors a glimpse into my artistic voyage through this exhibition.” He also added, “My aspiration is that my creations will motivate young individuals to delve into the fascinating universe of Arabic calligraphy and unleash their creative potential.”
Through this exhibition, SMA offers the public a chance to delve into the artistic evolution of the calligrapher as it traces his career trajectory from his early roots in Iraq to his works in classical Arabic scripts and onto the innovative phase where he created the “Al Wissam script”.
Born in Basra in Iraq in 1974, the artist has become a celebrated figure in Arabic calligraphy, garnering numerous accolades within the artistic community, thanks to his relentless effort and unwavering commitment. He has been a pivotal member and artist on the judging panels of the Sharjah Biennial for Arabic Calligraphy and the Dubai International Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition.
Based in the UAE, Shawkat works as a full-time artist and typographer. His creations are frequently featured in books on Arabic calligraphy, exhibited in art galleries and museums, and collected by art aficionados. He also held his solo exhibition, “Letters of Love,” showcasing his contemporary works to a global audience at the Reed Space Gallery in New York (2011).
Sharjah Museums Authority is rolling out engaging activities and workshops accompanying the exhibition. Among the workshops is the “Arabic Logos” workshop, which invites participants to delve into logo design and apply their creations to bags. The “Sunlit Script: Al Mashq” workshop enables participants to unleash their creativity through acrylic painting on canvas, offering a unique outlet for artistic expression, and the “Love Letters” workshop provides an avenue for participants to convey their emotions by crafting artwork inspired by the “Journey of a Letter” exhibition.
The Authority will wrap up its accompanying activities with the “Out of the Ordinary” event to explore avant-garde and unconventional styles in Arabic calligraphy. More information about Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA) and exhibitions.