From the abstract to the literal, from traditional painting to calligraffiti, the power of the word is explored in myriad ways through the works of today’s generation of artists.

image Maryam Ghanbarian / Untitled, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 135x190 cm / Courtesy of Kashya Hildebrand Gallery

Within the Middle East, calligraphy holds a special place – both spiritually and artistically. The script of the Holy Qur’an, it has been used for centuries to convey not just God’s word, adorning the book itself, but blossoming through the rich tradition of the Islamic decorative arts. It is also, however, an intensely contemporary art form, with its strict geometric rules lending themselves well to innovative new interpretations. From the abstract to the literal, from traditional painting to calligraffiti, the power of the word is explored in myriad ways through the works of today’s generation of artists.

In 'Illuminating the Word', (June 10 – August 31, 2015), running in the Project Space alongside the gallery’s summer show, Lumiere, a selection of artists from Iran, Syria and Tunisia encompass multiple generations and styles to create an illuminated space where the power of the word holds centre stage. Artists include Abdallah Akar, Azra Aghighi Bakshayeshi, Maryam Ghanbarian, Nja Mahdaoui, Hassan Massoudy, Khaled Al-Saa’i and Mir Yaghoub Sangtarash.

image Khaled Al Saa'i / City from Heaven, 2015, Collage, Ink and acrylic on paper, 45x75 cm / Courtesy of Kashya Hildebrand Gallery

image Aghighi Bakhshayeshi / Untitled, Oil on canvas, 190x150 cm / Courtesy of Kashya Hildebrand Gallery

image Nja Mahdaoui / Mahdia, 1995, Solven on denim, 140x140 cm / Courtesy of Kashya Hildebrand Gallery

From the large-scale canvases of Mir Yaghoub Sangtarash and Azra Aghighi Bakhshayeshi to the small, delicate works on paper of Khaled Al-Saa’i, the Arabic script is explored in numerous ways – at times able to be read, at others, completely abstract. Some works repeat a single letter form or word, while others bring to life entire phrases and poems.

image Left: Abdallah Akar / La voix et l'echo, 2011, Mixed media on canvas, 146x116 cm / Right: Hassan Massoudy / La terre N'Appartient Pas À L'Homme, 2005, Ink on paper, 75x 55 cm / Courtesy of Kashya Hildebrand Gallery

image Hadieh Shafie / Grid 21, 2012, Ink on arches paper, 66x66 cm / Courtesy of Kashya Hildebrand Gallery

image Mir Yaghoub Sangtaresh / Hafez Poem 01, Acrylic on canvas, 192x145 cm / Courtesy of Kashya Hildebrand Gallery

Kashya Hildebrand was one of the first galleries to showcase calligraphy as a Contemporary art form from the Middle East in Europe, presenting the works of such vanguards as Farhad Moshiri, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, Ali Omar Ermes, Ahmed Moustafa, Mohammed Ehsai and Nja Mahdaoui. Now, 'Illuminating the Word' pays tribute here in London to some of a new generation of calligraphic masters, who so evocatively combine the power of the written word with the power of art.


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