Al-Ahram Weekly Online   25 - 31 August 2011
Issue No. 1062
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

End of the beautiful line?

An addition to the special Ramadan cultural menu is an invitation to calligraphy lovers to enjoy this unique Islamic art, Rania Khallaf writes

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A unique exhibition is being held at the Picasso Art Gallery in Zamalek. On show there until the end of Ramadan are more than 50 paintings by the established calligrapher Khodeir El-Porsaidi.

El-Porsaidi has held hundreds of exhibitions in and outside Egypt. "What is unique about this exhibition is the new Ebru Art technique, using water," he told Al-Ahram Weekly. He added that this technique had more to do with texture, but he had adapted it to his calligraphic portraits.

El-Porsaidi does not miss the chance to express his deep sense of national pride and patriotism. Some of the paintings in his exhibition feature various installations of the Egyptian flag, one of them an attractive depiction of the flag with the calligraphic note: "Live with dignify under the shadow of the flag", a line from Umm Kalthoums's famous song "Misr alati fi khateri" ("Egypt in my mind").

Other calligraphy paintings feature Arab and European sayings or proverbs. Several of these sayings underline the significance of the language from an ethical point of view. One Bulgarian proverb reads: "Eyes and ears have a tongue, too"; and another: "A tongue has no bones, but it can smash a skeleton."

El-Porsaidi is noted for his bilingual calligraphic paintings which can be read from both sides, from right to left in Arabic and from left to right in English.

In 2007 El-Porsaidi established a calligraphy museum at his workshop in the Cairo district of Al-Hussein, a few steps away from the Qalaun Mosque. The museum is now part of Cairo's tourist itinerary, with both Arabs and foreigners, especially those who visit the well-known Islamic sites, being keen to see and enjoy the huge number of calligraphic paintings on view.

El-Porsaidi complains about the lack of interest shown by the Egyptian government towards this unique form of art.

As a positive reaction to the ruling, a syndicate for Egyptian calligraphers was established four months ago to preserve the identity of this unique Islamic art.

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