Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1357, (17 - 23 August 2017)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1357, (17 - 23 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

A letter’s life

The beauty of Arabic calligraphy has been on show since the opening of the third Cairo International Biennial of Arabic Calligraphy Art, writes Nevine El-Aref

#Hossam Ibrahim # Abdel-Rahman Mahran # Abdel-Kawi Rabie # Sara Ahmed # Salah Abdel-Khalek # Hassan Abul-Naga
# # # # # #

The Cairo Opera House Art Gallery was abuzz while workmen finalised the exhibition last week. You could see, within the frames, a long-haired princess on a boat and a mosque with two minarets, a heart, patterns and Quranic verses — all executed in various styles of Arabic calligraphy: Kufi, Ruqah, Naskh... 

Some 90 calligraphers from 22 countries are participating in the third Cairo International Biennale of Arabic Calligraphy Art (CIBACA), organised by the Cultural Development Fund in collaboration with the Fine Arts Sector, the Foreign Cultural Relations Sector and the Arabic Calligraphy Syndicate. 

The head of the Cultural Development Fund (CDF) Ahmed Awaad says the biennale aims to revive and raise international awareness of the beauty and power of Arabic calligraphy, introducing aspects of Islamic civilisation and forms of expression. 

“Cairo, also known as the City of a Thousand Minarets, is well known for its awe-inspiring Islamic architecture, and it is only fitting that it should host such an event too,” Awaad pointed out. “The event helps to encourage appreciation of the art and connect the younger Egyptian generations with their heritage through organised workshops and lectures.”

The event is republishing a 1915 book by Abdel-Fattah Ebada, the head of the Egyptian Registry: a unique and useful resource. According to the head of the Egyptian National Library and Archives (ENLA) Ahmed Al-Shoki, the book includes a history of the Arabic alphabet and its use across the world in Arabic and other languages like Farsi and Urdu. It also includes a history of the art of calligraphy and a monograph on its different kinds as well as a more general record of culture and society.

According to artist Mohamed Baghdadi, the CIBACA commissar, the event’s increasing popularity across the world points to Egypt regaining a pioneering position in the field. This round, Baghdadi said, is dedicated to Mohamed Abdel-Kader, “the sheikh of Egyptian calligraphers”, for his devotion to teaching and practising the art.

The renowned Egyptian-British calligrapher and London Central School of Art and Design scholar Ahmed Mustafa, who was born in Alexandria in 1974 and is known for his unique personal style, is participating in the CIBACA with a huge triptych on loan from a private collection. The round’s guests of honour include calligraphers Fekri Suleiman and Mustafa Abdel-Rahman from Egypt, Mounir Al-Shaarani from Syria, Farid Abdel-Rahman from Kuwait, Amer bin Jedo from Tunisia, Hamid Kharboush from Morocco and Ghada Al-Hassan from Saudi Arabia. 

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