NEW YORK / The work of more than a dozen influential artists from the Middle East offers a rare glimpse into the contemporary Arab and Iranian art worlds. 'Written Images: Contemporary Calligraphy from the Middle East', curated by noted art historian Karin von Roques, explores the role of traditional Islamic calligraphy and symbols in the contemporary Middle Eastern consciousness. Exhibition opened at Sundaram Tagore New York on November 10, 2011.

Arabic calligraphy in all its aesthetic and linguistic complexity is little understood in the West and often regarded as an art form belonging to the classic Islamic arts and, therefore, to the past. In fact, it plays an important role in contemporary Arab and Iranian art. For centuries, the written word has been at the center of Islamic visual culture— a legacy that persists even today. Artists including Iraqi Hassan Massoudy, and Tunisian Nja Mahdaoui were among the first to look at writing from an entirely new perspective and reposition calligraphy in the contemporary context. They have deftly expanded its potential so it is image as well as language. For them and the other artists in this show, writing is more than the legible word; they use it as a pictorial, formal element, referencing a multitude of issues—religious, social, political and personal.

Working with different media, including paint on canvas, collage, ink on paper, gold leaf and silkscreen, these artists take traditional Arabic script and symbols as their point of departure. Qatari artist Yousef Ahmad distills Arabic letters into abstract shapes and gestural
marks that sweep across dreamlike mixed-media surfaces. Syrian artist Khaled Al-Saa’i is inspired by poetry and Sufi philosophy, and paints spacious landscapes in which words float, overlap and follow their own particular rhythm. Offering a nuanced view of the culture
of the Middle East, these innovative artists create complex contemporary works that draw on the spiritual depth of ancient Islamic art.

The full roster of artists is as follows:
Yousef Ahmad (Qatar), Lulwah Al-Homoud (Saudi Arabia), Khaled Al-Saa’i (Syria), Chaouki Chamoun (Lebanon), Golnaz Fathi (Iran), Hakim Ghazali (Morocco), Ali Hassan (Qatar), Rachid Koraïchi (Algeria), Nja Mahdaoui (Tunisia), Hassan Massoudy (Iraq/France), Ahmed Mater (Saudia Arabia), Ahmad Moualla (Syria), Ahmed Moustafa (Egypt).

image Rachid Koraichi / Ibn Ata Allah Al Iskandari, 2009, Lithographs set of 8, ed.1/70, 62 x 40 cm. Photo by Jonathan Greet. © Image Courtesy of October Gallery, London

image Ahmad Moualla / Untitled, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 19.7 x 70.9 inches. © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

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Ahmad Moualla / Untitled, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 23.6 x 78.7 inches
© Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Ahmad Moualla / Untitled, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 37.4 x 37.4 inches © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Ahmed Mater / © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Ali Hassan / Untitled, mixed media on canvas, 70.9 x 70.9 inches. © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Ali Hassan / Untitled, mixed media on canvas, 70.9 x 70.9 inches. © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Chaouki Chamoun / The_Apocolypse III, acrylic on canvas, 55 x 55 inches. © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

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Hassan Massoudy / Untitled,_1990,_Ink_and_pigments_on_paper,_29.5_x_21_.7_inches.
© Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

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Hassan Massoudy / Untitled, 2009, ink and pigments on paper, 29.5 x 21.7 inches.
© Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Golnaz Fathi / Untitled, 2006, acrylic and pen on canvas, 39.4 x 70.9 inches. © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

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Golnaz Fathi / Untitled, 2011, pen on canvas, satin varnish, 47.2 x 47.2 inches.
© Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Golnaz Fathi / Untitled, 2011, pen on canvas, satin varnish, 47.2 x 47.2 inches. © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Ahmed Moustafa / © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Ahmed Moustafa / The Night Journey and Ascension, Oil and watercolour on paper mounted on canvas, 240 x 297cm. © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Khaled_Al-Saai / © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Lulwah Al-Homoud / © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Lulwah Al-Homoud / © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Lulwah Al-Homoud / © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Nja Mahdaoui / Astrolabe, 2009, india ink and acrylic on linen, 68.1 x 78.3 inches. © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

image Nja Mahdaoui /Jorf, 2009, India ink and acrylic on linen, 78.7 x 39.4 inches. © Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

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Yousef Ahmad / Untitled, 2009, thread, varnish, paint and paper laid on canvas, 71 x 71 inches.
© Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

Karin von Roques is a noted German curator and art historian who, having studied Islamic art, specializes in contemporary Arab and Iranian art. She is an authority on the Arabic region and its culture and has garnered much praise for exhibitions on modern calligraphy of the Arab world. From 1997 to 2000 she was the director for the Hermann Hesse Museum in Lugano, Switzerland. Von Roques has curated exhibitions for numerous institutions, including the Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; and the Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi. She has had extensive experience developing Arab art collections, and currently oversees Deutsche Bank’s collection program focused on contemporary Arab art. Most recently, von Roques served as a consultant to Sotheby’s, London, advising their Modern and Contemporary Arab and Iranian Art Department.

Established in 2000, Sundaram Tagore Gallery is devoted to examining the exchange of ideas between Western and non-Western cultures. They focus on developing exhibitions and hosting not-for-profit events that encourage spiritual, social and aesthetic dialogues. In a world where communication is instant and cultures are colliding and melding as never before, their goal is to provide venues for art that transcend boundaries of all sorts. With galleries in New York, Beverly Hills, and Hong Kong, their interest in cross-cultural exchange extends beyond the visual arts into many other disciplines, including poetry, literature, performance art, film and music.

Exhibition dates: November 10 - December 3, 2011

 


Comments
  • tarif .sioufi - architect - contemporary painter-i
    Feb 20, 2012 - 23:03:54

    these leader artists are registering in the calligraphy history , a valuable scripts full of innovation and good sense.i believe that other artists could create another trial totally different.could be similar in value or better its a challenge…

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