Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization hosts modern Arabic calligraphy showcase

Beyond the Letter exhibits 27 beautiful works by a range of contemporary artists from around the world chosen from the collection of Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia


The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization unveiled on Wednesday its latest exhibition, ‘Beyond the Letter: Modern Arabic Calligraphy from the collection of Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia’.

Opened yesterday at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization and running until June 23rd, the exhibition coincides with the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial.

The exhibition was inaugurated by H.E Syed Mohammed Hasrin Aidid, Ambassador of Malaysia to the UAE and his wife, Dr Heba Nayel Barakat, head of Curatorial Affairs at IAMM, and Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority alongside a number of VIP guests.

The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia’s collection includes pieces by some of the most important artists working in the field of Arabic calligraphy, from both regional Islamic cultural centres like Iran and Egypt, as well as works by calligraphers from as far afield as Japan and Malaysia.

‘Beyond the Letter’ features works by celebrated Iranian calligraphy artists – a list of talent that includes Mohsen Daeinabi, Maryam Ghanbarian, Ebrahim Olfat as well as Ali Jamshidi and Ali Shirazi. Collectively, this group has won a raft of honours and global prizes, and their works have been displayed in exhibitions and art museums around the world.

Egypt-born fine artist Ahmed Moustafa currently lives and works in London, but his exhibitions have touched audiences in the UAE, France, the UK and Switzerland. His portfolio has also featured in private and public collections in the British Museum, London; the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; the Museum of Modern Arts, Alexandria, Egypt; the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh; and the Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana at The Vatican in Rome.

Japan is not usually a country associated with Islamic art, but Fuad Kouichi Honda has spent many years perfecting his calligraphy. A graduate of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in 1969, Mr. Honda was chosen as one of the top five contemporary Arabic calligraphers at a Kuwaiti Government festival and holds an ijaza awarded by Turkish master calligrapher Hassan Chelebi.

Inspired by his father at a young age, Malaysian Ahmad Dhiya’ bin Abdul Ghafur is the youngest artist featured in the exhibition. A self-taught calligrapher, he has studied the classical script forms of Kufic, Naskh, Thuluth, Riqa’, Nastaliq and Divani. As well as collaborating with local artists, his work has been displayed at the Eid Festival in Sydney, Australia.

The ‘Beyond the Letter’ exhibit is the second successful collaboration between the Sharjah Museums Authority and the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. The museums previously worked together on the ‘Rhythm and Verse – Persian Calligraphy’ exhibit in 2016.

The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia is home to around 10,000 artefacts including important works of calligraphy by artists from across the Middle East and Asia.

This new exhibit is a fantastic opportunity for art lovers to see some of the museum’s finest pieces, some of which are on display in the UAE for the first time.

Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, said:

“The Sharjah Museums Authority is delighted to be working so closely with colleagues from the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia once again. ‘Beyond the Letter’ represents our shared love and respect for the contributions of talented calligraphers from all around the world that are working today. We urge all lovers of calligraphy and the arts to attend this beautiful exhibit.”

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