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VCUQatar Presents Thoughts on Modern Calligraphy and Contemporary Work

November 29, 2011

The Graphic Design Department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar presents a lecture by renowned calligrapher, Wissam Shawkat, entitled Thoughts on Modern Calligraphy and Contemporary Work, on Wednesday, 30 November, 2011 at 6:00 PM at the atrium at VCUQatar.

In recent years, a number of calligraphers have undertaken an introspective enquiry into the concepts of this fine art. Wissam Shawkat, considered a master of the classical Arabic scripts, began questioning the direction and purpose of calligraphy in the modern world. Observing his recent works, celebrated author, broadcaster and lecturer on Islamic art history, Dr. Nabil F. Safwat says, “It is particularly notable that Shawkat is able to make his modernist compositions in such a way that the classic calligraphic construction is both hidden and dominant. Thus he has invented something totally new, yet not totally unfamiliar. His control of the calligraphic media is breathtaking and exceptional.”

In Shawkat’s recent works one can clearly detect classical scripts such as Thulth, Kufic and Diwani, “yet in his new forms and compositions he pushes ahead with his quest for achieving a stimulating transformation of the calligraphy of the Arabic letters. For this and other qualities such as the use of color, the horizontal and vertical expansions of calligraphic forms, circular and other compositions, Shawkat is considered an important avant-garde calligrapher in the contemporary Middle East,” adds Safwat.

The Graphic Design department will also host an exhibition, ‘Letters of Love and Graphic Design’ from 27 November to 22 December at VCUQatar showcasing Shawkat’s work. In this exhibition Shawkat illustrates the choices of shapes, forms and compositions are almost limitless today. “When this expertise in classical calligraphy is harnessed together with these new forms and shapes, Shawkat believes they become a powerful force for calligraphy and an innovative expression of the time,” says Safwat.

Originally from Iraq, Wissam Shawkat now lives in Dubai, UAE. A civil engineer by practice, Shawkat was passionate about calligraphy from an early age. His degree in Civil Engineering, received from Basra University in 1996, complemented his artistic pursuits and offered him the skills necessary to excel at draftsmanship and design. His unique style borrows from the exquisite craftsmanship of traditional practitioners and the vibrancy of contemporary culture.

A calligrapher and designer of logotypes with over 20 years of experience, Shawkat has worked for well-known clients in branding design, advertising agencies and big corporations. In addition to the graphic applications of his calligraphic works, he has practiced calligraphy as an art form, producing fine art calligraphy pieces that are included in many private and public collections throughout the world. Shawkat has participated in many local and international competitions and exhibitions and won many awards locally and internationally. He has served as a judge and a consultant for several local and international calligraphy functions and exhibitions. Shawkat’s work has appeared in many books and publications featuring the art of calligraphy and logos. Selected pieces are part of important private collections across the world.

‘Thoughts on Modern Calligraphy and Contemporary Work,’ will be presented by Shawkat on Wednesday, 30 November, 2011 at the atrium at VCUQatar. Refreshments will be served at 6:00 PM and the lecture begins at 6:45 PM. The exhibition showcasing Shawkat’s work, ‘Letters of Love and Graphic Design’, will run at VCUQatar from 27 November to 22 December, 2011. Both events are open to the public.

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