Autumn 2023

Art & Auctions
Artistic Letters

An exhibition of calligraphy works by renowned artist Wissam Shawkat, titled “Journey of a Letter”, highlights the geometric forms and intricate details in letters, creating a captivating visual experience.

The exhibition, at Sharjah Calligraphy Museum, runs untill November 30 and is organised by Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA).

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.

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.”

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 in 2011.  

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