Calligraphy as an art of identity
“Majaz 2”, 2022, 150*200. Art courtesy of the artist.
The Arabic letter has unique aesthetics that distinguish it from letters of other languages, as it offers many aesthetic options for the relationship of the letters with each other. These relationships can be formed smoothly by adapting the letters to any design or creativity that comes to the mind of the artist and calligrapher. Still, it is a sensitive letter, and perfection must be accompanied with creative imagination; any slight dissonance harms the whole painting, just as any linguistic error leads to the destruction of the aesthetic meanings.
Arabic letters have been used across art forms, including architecture throughout history, because Arabic calligraphy has a captivating geometric structure in addition to its beauty. In the modern era, it has entered the fine arts, and many fine artists have specialized in calligraphy to enhance their expressive methods.
The history of Arabic calligraphy is rich with calligraphers from around the world using Arabic letters to its fullest potential. It has become an important part of contemporary arts, and the major galleries, exhibitions, museums and art centers flourish with its paintings.
The Syrian artist Akil Ahmed is a graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Aleppo. Since the age of ten he has been mastering Arabic calligraphy, increasing his cognitive and visual perceptions of contemporary art, and working on tools that helped him shape his artistic style in dealing with letters and forming them while merging them with the enchanting world of colours.
In my visual research, I worked on a contemporary vision linking art and Arabic calligraphy, such as searching for the link between the musical maqam and the visual maqam; research similar to exploring awareness, emotion and feeling in an artistic way. These are the foundations of artwork, which do not depart from the high spontaneity at a particular moment.
I have already held six solo exhibitions in Beirut, Qatar, Kuwait and Berlin, and have participated in many group exhibitions, international art panels and forums, and won awards, including two (Al Burda) awards from the United Arab Emirates.
On the importance of art to him, he says:
Art is a pure truth that rises above reality. It possesses me as a high spiritual state full of music, feelings and emotions, a space of freedom in which I express what is going on inside me spontaneously, far from pretentiousness and overacting. And Arabic calligraphy, which was a childhood pastime, has become a passion and a vital field not only for moral and rhetorical expression, but also for visual expression that transcends the obstacles of knowledge of the language.
What difficulties did you encounter at the beginning of your artistic career?
They were not difficulties and obstacles as much as a luminous way to reach a state of overflow of feelings about the war raging in Syria, and a search for safety elsewhere to continue the artistic experience. The feature of the experience was an artistic debate between exile and nostalgia for the homeland.
Who has influenced your artistic experience?
I was influenced by everyone who worked on Arabic calligraphy from Arab and non-Arab artists, and they set an example for me while developing my experience to reach this passion for research and benefit from international artistic experiences, which enrich my visual vision and cognitive experiences.
What does the term identity mean to you?
Identity is our self and our thoughts by which we live in this vast world. Currently, the term identity has become less present due to our knowledge of the world and the ease of communication between cultures and the blending of experiences.
What is your motto in life?
What comes out of the heart enters the heart, true and honest artistic production easily reaches the heart of the recipient.
Do you think that identity has a significant impact on your artwork?
I always try to think outside the traditional box, and research in our heritage, ideas and way of life, in order to produce contemporary art that resembles us and fits our time and our current taste.
How do you want people to feel when they see your paintings? What is the main message you are trying to spread through your art?
I make sure that the viewer in front of my painting finds a relationship between him and my artwork, and that they have the same feelings and emotions I had without going back to the texts that inspired my work. My mission that I work for is that life is full of art and music.
What are the feelings or moments that most motivate you to paint? What influences you as an artist?
Music ignites a fire in me that can only be put out by colours, and it is a pure state that reinterprets the feelings and emotions in my heart to formulate a new visual text, and what affects me most is our real life, as daily views are liable to transform into an idea that I work on.
What are your ambitions and projects for the future?
Ambition is always open and is not hindered by anything, and there is no specific limit for it. The bigger your dream and diligence the more space and horizon will extend.