SCB10 adds new category for non-Arab artists

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By Shaikha Alshamsi 

UAE, SHARJAH – The 2022 Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial added the other cultures category, which allowed non-Arab artists interested in Arabic calligraphy to showcase their projects. 

Director of Cultural Affairs at the Sharjah Department of Culture Mohammed Al Qaseer said that this idea was proposed by the preparatory commission and management of the biennial to make sure that every edition has its distinguished exhibition. 

“This will help the art of Arabic calligraphy to receive global recognition,” Al Qaseer added.

 Six non-Arab artists were selected to display their artworks at the exhibition, including Nuria Garcia and Pablo Casado from Spain, Antonella Leoni from Italy, Muhammad Hobe from South Africa, Yushaa Abdullah from Nigeria and Josh Berer from the United States. The artworks presented by these creators are of the classic and al-Huruffiya scripts. 

One of the artists Leoni said that her art pieces were created based on her inspiration from the Holy Quran and the history of Cairo where she lives.  Leoni said that she uses her favorite letters such as “Meem,” “Haa” and “Ain” in most of the paintings. Leoni added that she combines them in her artworks and gives them a final touch in gold color to symbolize the power of the Qalam (pen) according to “Surat al-Alaq.” 

Meanwhile, the Italian artist said that her participation in the SCB this year gave her the opportunity to display her pieces, which show that an authentic and profound religious philosophical thought should be accompanied by an equally authentic and profound drawing. 

“I believe this is important to acknowledge as it involves a process where both the artist and observer are spiritually elevated by a visual communication that nourishes their souls,” Leoni said. 

She added that the art of Arabic calligraphy should be promoted and practiced at every age. 

“This would allow us to preserve the great knowledge it contains, which we are unfortunately losing over time,” Leoni said. 

Leoni said that through the biennial, she was able to share her thoughts with other artists and look at other ideas that inspired her to create new forms of calligraphy. 

“When I attended the biennial, I saw new things such as installations for the first time and I had a feeling of doing one myself,” she added. 

From paintings to installations, the SCB in its 10th edition displayed different types of calligraphy created by over 200 artists across the world including 15 Emirati artists. The theme of the biennial this year was elevation. Its aim was to look for new content and renew creative proposals. 

This event, which was organized by SDC in collaboration with over 20 associations, has 219 activities. It will end on Nov.30.

Antonella Leoni’s piece “Kun Fayakun” is a painting inspired from a verse in the Holy Quran.