The calligrapher who thinks legibility is the enemy of creativity
Despite his reputation as an acclaimed calligrapher, you can’t read Wissam Shawkat’s work – and that’s just the way he likes it.
The contemporary interpretation of calligraphy from the Iraqi artist sees him celebrate the abstract meaning of letters and the shapes that create them.
“Before calligraphy was canonized as a form it was once considered revolutionary and experimental,” says Shawkat. “My practice is an effort to take it back to that disorienting place that teeters on the edge of what is known and what is unfamiliar.”
This concept is demonstrated with the showcasing of his new exhibition ‘Pursuit of Rhythm’ held in Dubai’s Showcase Gallery, until September 20. The collection of prints, posters and original works demonstrate an evolve version of his work that he calls ‘Calligraform’ – an approach which focuses not only on the precise forms of the letters, but also the abstract shapes generated by examining the geometric spaces inside and outside of their structures.
Although his designs are initially created through meditating on a letter, the overall shape takes on a monumental form that is not necessarily anchored in the Arab World. Movements such as Geometric Abstraction, Futurism, Cubism, and elements of the Bauhaus era inspire the works.
“If an artist writes something simply for people to read, it can never be denoted as art,” says Shawkat. In essence, Shawkat’s work is a dialogue between Western abstract art and traditional Arabic calligraphy, we think… and he certainly want tell us otherwise.
Pursuit of Rhythm, Showcase Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai. Until September 20. showcasegalleryuae.com
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