Picasso Art Gallery: Khodeir El Borsaidy Calligraphy Exhibition
Unable to compete with technological advances of today, many argue that the role of the calligrapher died in the late 1980s when word processors upgraded to include multiple fonts, and printers emerged as household items. However, many artists continue to master the art of calligraphy simply for the appreciation of its beauty.
In the Middle East, Egyptian Khodeir Al Borsaidy is known for being one of the most active and acclaimed keepers of the tradition. His works are known for their vibrancy, favouring the use of the Thuluth script for its energetic sense of motion.
In this self-titled exhibition at Zamalek’s Picasso Art Gallery, Borsaidy has exposed his works with a pioneering philosophy. As opposed to strictly adhering to traditional calligraphic fonts such as Nash, Tawqi and the aforementioned Thuluth, Borsaidy has set about to create his own cursive style. His approach is daring yet simple; at first, he paints a letter or word in a traditional font and then adds layers in a calligraphic style of his own. Combined with the use of geometric shapes and figures, the end results are a daring step forward in the art of calligraphy, without going far enough to be labelled as radical.
Hanging in all corners of the gallery, the paintings are unnamed since the inclusion of text gives them the privilege of speaking for themselves. Like all calligraphers, there is a heavy religious theme in many of his paintings including Quaranic verses, Prophetic Hadiths or the names of God. That said, there are also works dedicated to secular poetry.
At first glance, Borsaidy’s use of contrasting colour and variations between small and large canvas size are pleasing to the eye. He does not seclude himself to a colour scheme or black-and-white, which is not uncommon in the style of calligraphy. Instead, Khodeir presents a full splash of colours – including gold and silver – that differ in their intensity and variation between his works. There are instances where the use of repetition and motion in his paintings leads to a hypnotic effect. On closer inspection, however, the intricacy of the paintings begins to shine as the calligraphy is deciphered.
Despite many people’s disinterest towards calligraphy, the twists to the genre by Borsaidy make this exhibition worth a visit, and it will certainly prove engaging.