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‘Calligraphy is My Life’ at Picasso Gallery

Picasso Art Gallery: ‘Calligraphy is My Life’ by Khudair Al Borsaidi

reviewed by
Katie Dryden
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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.   

360 Tip

The exhibition runs until July 16th. 

Best Bit

Calligraphy offers a different style of art than typical paintings and sculptures.

Worst Bit

If you are a non-Arabic speaker then the exhibition can seem confusing.

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