Contemporary Muslim calligraphy debuts in Malaysia – in pictures

A Malaysian museum opens its contemporary Islamic calligraphy collection to the public.

To celebrate its 15th anniversary, Kuala Lumpur’s Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) is displaying its private collection of contemporary Islamic calligraphy publicly for the first time. The exhibition, titled “Nun Wa Al Qalam: Contemporary Muslim Calligraphy”, is ongoing until 10 May 2014.

Alireza Karimpour, 'Untitled', 2010, mixed media on canvas, 139 x 109 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Alireza Karimpour, ‘Untitled’, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 139 x 109 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) established in 1998, is dedicated to Islamic artistic and cultural heritage, but has also been a patron of contemporary art. The museum’s private collection of nearly 300 artworks of Islamic calligraphy is diverse, and consists of scripts and styles from all over the world.

“Nun Wa Al Qalam: Contemporary Muslim Calligraphy” will exhibit over 100 artworks from the IAMM’s collection, featuring 36 artists from various countries such as Japan, Syria, China, Tunisia, Iran, Malaysia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. According to the press release, the diversity of artists and media presented will “undoubtedly spark interest and new ideas amongst the local calligraphy community.”

Mohammad Reza Amouzad, 'Untitled', 2011, fibreglass, 169 x 136 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Mohammad Reza Amouzad, ‘Untitled’, 2011, fibreglass, 169 x 136 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

The diversity of Islamic calligraphy

The exhibition features work by both emerging and well-established artists from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Iranian calligraphers dominate, with 25 of the 36 artists being from Iran. Artists such as Haji Noor Deen Mi Guang Jiang (b. 1963, China), the first Chinese Muslim to receive the coveted Egyptian Certificate of Arabic Calligrapher (1997), and Japanese artist Fuad Koichi Honda bring regional and stylistic diversity.

Ahmed Moustafa, 'Frolicking Horses', 2001, artist proof, 52 x 39 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Ahmed Moustafa, ‘Frolicking Horses’, 2001, artist proof, 52 x 39 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Artists from Africa include Tunisia’s Nja Mahdaoui and Essam Abdul Fattah, Sameh Ismael, Rasha Qasim and Ahmed Moustafa from Egypt. Sameh Ismael is also a graphic designer and has recently designed calligraphy for the film Al-Masseer (The Destiny) by renowned director Youssef Shahin.

Mouneer al Shaarani, 'Be thee gracious, generous, eloquent and discreet', gouache on paper, 66 x 117 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Mouneer el Shaarani, ‘Be thee gracious, generous, eloquent and discreet’, gouache on paper, 66 x 117 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Mouneer el Shaarani (b. 1952) is a Syrian artist who is known for introducing innovative calligraphic styles and typefaces that arise from a modern re-interpretation of the traditional. He has designed several custom typefaces, and his works have been collected and exhibited internationally.

Ahmad Dhiya' bin Abdul Ghafur, 'Arabic Letter Alif, Lam and Ra', 2013, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 76 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Ahmad Dhiya’ bin Abdul Ghafur, ‘Arabic Letter Alif, Lam and Ra’, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 76 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Malaysia is represented by renowned artist Haji Omar Rahmat (1942 – 2002), who was a well-known local calligrapher combining Qur’anic verses, motifs from nature, as well as geometric elements in his works. Another Malaysian artist, Ahmad Dhiya’ bin Abdul Ghafur (b. 1994) is the youngest artist in this exhibition. He is self-taught and trained in the Kufic, Naskh, Thuluth, Riqa’, Nastaliq and Diwani scripts.

Iranian artists in focus

The featured Iranian artists also bring a wide range of diverse styles and experience to the exhibition. Alireza Karimpour (b. 1968) is an experienced calligrapher who in 1999 founded the Khorshid Gallery in Iran. Ali Ajali (b. 1939, Mianeh) is the founder of the “Gol Gasht” school of calligraphy, characterised by a dense and interlocking play of the Arab script that is now adopted by many calligraphers.

Ali Reza Saadatmand, 'Soil of Road', 2010, oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Ali Reza Saadatmand, ‘Soil of Road’, 2010, oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Ali Reza Saadatmand (b. 1977) is an emerging artist who works in various media such as painting, photography, ceramics and calligraphy. His calligraphic compositions are experimental and abstract. In his artist biography, he says:

The main part of an artwork happens in the viewer’s eyes and mind; while in this process, the artist only leaves the trace of reality in the work.

Einoddin Sadeghzadeh, 'You Belong to Me', 2009, tar on canvas, 199 x 100 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Einoddin Sadeghzadeh, ‘You Belong to Me’, 2009, tar on canvas, 199 x 100 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Einoddin Sadeghzadeh (b. 1965, Babolsar) is a lecturer at Tehran Art College and the Association of Iranian Calligraphers. He has experimented with using tar on canvas, creating inspiring and creative calligraphy.

Mohsen Daeinabi, 'Untitled', 2008, mixed media on canvas, 120 x 80 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Mohsen Daeinabi, ‘Untitled’, 2008, mixed media on canvas, 120 x 80 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Mohsen Daeinabi (b. 1973) is an Iranian calligrapher and poet who often incorporates music in his works. He established the Hamrang Graphic Group and is currently based in Tehran.

Mehrdad Shoghi, 'Poetry by Rumi', 2012, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 200 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Mehrdad Shoghi, ‘Poetry by Rumi’, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 200 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Also featured are Pilaram Faramarz (1938 – 1982), who was the co-founder of the “Sagha-khaneh” style of calligraphy in Iran, and Mehrdad Shoghi (b. 1972), whose monumental murals and public art works can be found around Tehran and Toronto. Shoghi says of calligraphy:

The world of ideas cannot possibly be perfectly contained in words, hence the endless efforts of numerous calligraphers to alter and add to written words.

Golnaz Fathi, 'Untitled', 2008, acrylic on canvas, 145 x 131 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Golnaz Fathi, ‘Untitled’, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 145 x 131 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Female calligraphic artists

The exhibition includes a section dedicated to five female calligraphers, providing a platform for them to share their inspiration, and highlighting the role of female artists in developing and safeguarding Islamic calligraphic art. These five artists are:

  • Maryam Ghanbarian
  • Azra Aghighi Bakhshayeshi
  • Ola Hejazi
  • Golnaz Fathi
  • Rasha Qasim

Rasha Qasim is an Egyptian artist whose work has been exhibited in Egypt, the U.A.E. and Kuwait, and is a member of the Egyptian General Assembly of Arabic Calligraphy. Ola Hejazi is a Saudi artist deriving inspiration from her travels, everyday life and artists such as Frida Kahlo, Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp.

Maryam Ghanbarian, 'Untitled', 2012, acrylic on canvas, 145 x 145 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Maryam Ghanbarian, ‘Untitled’, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 145 x 145 cm. Image courtesy IAMM.

Maryam Ghanbarian, Azra Aghighi Bakhshayeshi and Golnaz Fathi are all from Iran. Golnaz Fathi (b. 1972, Tehran) was the first woman to win an award for the Ketabat genre of calligraphy in Iran, and has exhibited in Iran and the United States. Maryam Ghanbarian (b. 1987, Tehran) received her Master’s degree in Graphics from the University of Tehran in 2012. She is the creator of fifty new characters inspired by “khate kufie banaei” and an innovative set of Farsi typescripts.

Kriti Bajaj

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Related Topics: museums, Iranian artists, museum collections, museum shows, picture feasts, calligraphy, events in Kuala Lumpur

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Comments

Contemporary Muslim calligraphy debuts in Malaysia – in pictures — 2 Comments

  1. Hi, I would like to know whether it is possible to take part in one of your Islamic Calligraphy exhibitions. My husband does a really unique work – carving names of Allah and Quranic verses on egg shells. Design and calligraphy are striking. We will send you the photographs fpr your perusal if you ask for this.

    Thank you.

  2. Hi I am enquiring regarding exhibiting at the Museum

    Please let me have some details about the process

    thanks

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