Tue, Sep 26, 2023

Art & Auctions
Journey of a Letter expo by artist Wissam Shawkat opens

An exhibtiion of calligraphy works by renowned artist Wissam Shawkat, titled “Journey of a Letter”, has opened at Sharjah Calligraphy Museum.

Sheikh Salem bin Abdulrahman Al Qasimi, chairman of the Sharjah Ruler's Office has, inaugurated the exhibition on Monday. It will run till November 30.

Organised by Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA), the show 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 yearly specialised exhibitions.

Aisha Rashid Deemas, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, emphasised the significance of “Journey of a Letter" exhibition, stating: "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."

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 own creation, the Al Wissam script.

It also showcases artworks created in his contemporary "Calligraforms" style, in which he enlarges intricate details within the letters and incorporates geometric shapes, both inside and outside of the letterforms.

His modern 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 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 10 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, as well as visits to museums and libraries across diverse regions.

Shawkat conveyed his delight over Sharjah Museums Authority's organisation of the exhibition, stating: "I'm thrilled to offer visitors a glimpse into my artistic voyage through this exhibition. My aspiration is that my creations will motivate young individuals to delve into the fascinating universe of Arabic calligraphy and unleash their creative potential,” he added.

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.

He has been a pivotal member and artist on the judging panels of both 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.

Accompanying Events

Sharjah Museums Authority has rolled out an array of engaging activities and workshops accompanying the exhibition that are aimed primarily at adults aged 18 and older.

Among these is the "Arabic Logos" workshop, which invites participants to delve into logo design and apply their creations onto bags.

Another offering, the "Sunlit Script: Al Mashq" workshop, enables participants to unleash their creativity through acrylic painting on canvas, offering a unique outlet for artistic expression while the "Love Letters" workshop provides an avenue for participants to convey their emotions by crafting specialized artwork inspired by the "Journey of a Letter" exhibition.

The authority will wrap up its series of accompanying activities with the "Out of the Ordinary" event. Targeted at individuals aged 13 to 17, this finale explores avant-garde and unconventional styles in Arabic calligraphy.

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