Sign in using your account with
Picasso Art Gallery: ‘Calligraphy is My Life’ by Khudair Al Borsaidi
Picasso Art Gallery is known for its refined taste in art, which is shown in its latest exhibition, 'Calligraphy is My Life', by Egyptian artist Khudair Al Borsaidi.
Born in Port Said in 1942, Al Borsaidi discovered his passion for calligraphy at the age of five, when he would write slogans on walls using blue paint which, at the time, people used to cover their windows, protecting themselves from air raids.
Al Borsaidi's slogans denounced the British occupation at the time and prompted his frequent imprisonment and further threats to arrest his father.
Al Borsaidi focuses on the art of calligraphy using verses from the Quran, creating beautiful, sensual swirls over crisp, white canvases, some of which include handmade paper.
One of the artist's interesting pieces is the portrayal of God's 99 names as cited in the Quran in a decorative and colourful style, with each of the holy names having its own little bubble of colour. They intriguingly come together creating the word "Allah" up-close, and the image of a mosque from a distance.
Some of Al Borsaidi's featured works include simple words like 'Alhamdulillah,' whereas others feature ancient proverbs that are slightly longer in length. One of his vertical pieces, coloured blue, black and purple, translates to: 'Hold your tongue or the snake will bite'; an ancient proverb implying the importance of being careful with what we say and to think before we speak.
Though this exhibition focuses on the artist's delicate calligraphy, there are also some tiny images entwined with the letters. One particular piece features tiny flowers, a small painting of red lips and two eyes, with words that translates to: 'My eyes will never look at another beauty.' The images are painted just as delicately as the letters themselves, portraying a sophisticated touch that gives each of the pieces a sense of movement. Though the meanings behind the writings might not be clear to non-Arabic speakers, gallery visitors can nonetheless appreciate and enjoy Al Borsaidi's pieces purely on a visual level as he demonstrates the power of art and words combined.
While the late Inji Efflatoun has become known for her colourful paintings, Safar Khan Gallery’s current exhibition shines a light on Efflatoun’s ink-on-paper collection, ‘Freedom After Prison’. Utilising the chosen materials through different techniques, Efflatoun created a diverse collection of sketches, which depicts life in the Egyptian countryside.
In some of the paintings, Efflatoun used staccato pen strokes to form the scene. One of them is ‘Rest Time’, in which the artist drew the masses of resting workers, adding a touch of detail here and there to break the detachment of the outlines.
On the other hand, other paintings boast a flowing outline, especially the ones including palm trees and greenery. In one of the best pieces in the exhibition, Efflatoun not only studies the form of palm leaves, but she also adds a creative touch to this simple form, filling the thin outline of the element with waves of ink, using the wide tip of a black marker.
Merging between the previous two techniques, Efflatoun drew a number of scenes that portray the dwellings of the peasants. For example, in one of the paintings, the artist used a continuous outline to draw the houses, while pen strokes were used to form the shape of other details, like palm trees or straw ceilings. Where necessary, Efflatoun used the wide tip of the marker for creating shades.
Though the different shades of ink are dominant in this exhibition, the gallery shows four paintings in colour, three of which are by Efflatoun herself and the fourth is by the exhibition’s guest of honour, the late Taheya Halim.
While two of Efflatoun’s were placed in near the front desk, making it difficult for the viewer to have a close look at them under the stares of the curators, the third, which portrays the artist while working in a simple set of brush strokes, is placed amidst the other ink paintings. However, being the guest of honour, Halim’s Painting, which depicts a Nubian couple seated on a bench, is centred on the wall facing the entrance.
And whether in colours, or merely painting using ink, ‘Freedom After Prison’ is sheer proof of the artist’s brilliant ability to create animated paintings using different mediums.