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Underlining Arabic calligraphy’s modern appeal

UAE-based artist sees successful show in France as affirmation of genre’s mystique

Image Credit: Courtesy: Hesham Malek
Dubai-based artist Hesham Malek advocates preservingArabic calligraphy as an art given its place in history.
Gulf News

Dubai: In today’s fast-paced world, modern Arabic calligraphy has become a genre of art with a dwindling national audience. Dubai-based artist Hesham Malek is among those who believe that it is essential to preserve the art as a link to history.

Several of Malek’s works were recently showcased at the Airbus art show in Toulouse, giving art lovers in France a glimpse of Emirati culture.

“It gives me immense pleasure to know that I was given the opportunity to take the Emirati culture to a part of Europe where the local people welcomed and enjoyed the art,” said Malek, who couldn’t make it to the event personally due to prior commitments.

The artist believes that Arabic calligraphy is much more than an artistic expression of the Arabian culture — he would have you believe it’s the language of the soul.

Some of the modern Arabic calligraphy art displayed at the event took inspiration from Arabic proverbs on the virtues of generosity, patience, and the beauty of the soul.

Malek is perturbed that the art of calligraphy is in decline all over the world. He says his love for Arabic calligraphy started back in his childhood. “As a child I used to visit museums and exhibitions and was always intrigued by the detailing of the script and the styles of calligraphy which got me inclined towards it,” he said.

After studying calligraphy, Malek eventually developed his own style and conceptualisation which he believes is reflected in his works.

The artist who considers calligraphy a completely different chapter of art believes that the Arabic script has been used around the world for its magical qualities, and mainly for the mystical power of its complicated shapes.

“It is a special moment in the history of a culture that is using a script with such a highly iconic status and in so many different ways to adapt its script to modern means and needs of visual communication,” he said of the evolution of Modern Arabic Calligraphy.

Malek said he was greatly honoured to have had his work showcased in France. He is also preparing to reach out to new audiences at several upcoming shows in Prague, Colombo, Toronto and Mumbai in the next few months.