Ministry of Culture holds ‘Scripts and Calligraphy: A Timeless Journey’ exhibition

June 14, 2021
The Ministry of Culture organizes an exhibition showcasing the history of Arabic calligraphy under the title
The Ministry of Culture organizes an exhibition showcasing the history of Arabic calligraphy under the title "Scripts and Calligraphy: A Timeless Journey," scheduled to be held from June 16 to Aug. 21, 2021 at the National Museum, Riyadh.

RIYADH — The Ministry of Culture organizes an exhibition showcasing the history of Arabic calligraphy under the title "Scripts and Calligraphy: A Timeless Journey," scheduled to be held from June 16 to Aug. 21, 2021 at the National Museum, Riyadh.

The exhibition highlights the stages of the Arabic Script’s development since its very beginnings and the artistic relationship between calligraphy, contemporary art, and artificial intelligence through an exceptional journey of knowledge, featuring Saudi and international master calligraphers, contemporary artists, and designers.

The 1,500-square-meter exhibition offers an integrated journey of knowledge about Arabic Calligraphy and its great masters throughout the history of Arab civilization.

The journey starts from the inception of writing nearly 1,700 years ago on the Arabian Peninsula and goes through the development stages of scripts engraved on stone and linear paintings, manuscripts, and objects throughout the Islamic world.

The exhibition also covers modern applications of Arabic calligraphy in fashion, design, and artificial intelligence.

The sections and contents of the “Scripts and Calligraphy: A Timeless Journey” exhibition are divided into five stages, namely, the origins of the Arabic script, the development of calligraphy, master calligraphers, calligraphy and contemporary art as well as calligraphy and artificial intelligence.

Through these stages, visitors will discover the history of the various scripts that were used prior to the adoption of the Arabic language in the Arabian Peninsula, and explore the paintings and doorways engraved in Dadanitic and Nabataean scripts, as well as photographs of inscriptions taken by the renowned photographer Robert Polidori in AlUla Governorate.

Near these classic works, visitors will also find an artificial intelligence machine developed by the Egyptian artist and designer Haytham Nawar, allowing them to produce a new generative pictographic language onto a digital screen.

The exhibition contains one of the oldest pages of the Holy Qur’an dating back to the 2nd century AH (8th century AD), along with a selection of Qur’an manuscripts, including the Blue Qur’an and Mushaf Al-Madinah, in addition to a designed manuscript presented by the Obvious group a collective of French researchers and artists.

The exhibition includes a dedicated section for Saudi and international masters of Arabic calligraphy, namely: Ahmed Fares Rizq, Ayman Hassan, Boubacar Sadeck, Tagelsir Hassan, Jassim Miraj Al-Failakawi, Jamal Alenezi, Jamal Alkebasi, Haji Noor Deen Mi Guang Jiang, Hamidi Belaid, Hassan Radwan, Rasha Kasem Abdou Shahbar and Abdulrasheed Butt

It also includes Rabeea Abdulelah Majeed, Salah Abdul Khaliq, Majid Al Yousef, Mohammed Safarbati, Maryam Norouzi, Abdulaziz Al Rashedi, Obaid Al-Nofaey, Abderrahim Gouline, Amor Jomni, Obaida Mohammed Salih Al-Banki, Abdelrahman ElShahed, Narjes Noureddine, Nuria Garcia Masip, Nasser Al Salem, Nasser Al Maymoon and Wissam Shawkat.

The Ministry of Culture has allocated a hall in the Arabic Calligraphy masters’ section to include 31 displays of thousands of calligraphy pieces produced by Abdul Ghani Alani, the Iraqi poet and calligrapher, heir of the Baghdad school of calligraphy, one of the great masters of contemporary calligraphy and a laureate of the 2009 UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture.

The exhibition also includes a section entitled “Nomadic Traces in Contemporary Art and Design” curated by Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès, which highlights the crucial role played by ancient Arabic scripts in developing the Arabic script used in contemporary arts and designs.

This section features works by a number of Arab designers from different majors and nationalities, namely: Ebtissam AlGosaibi, Hussein Alazaat, Hamza Al Omari, Khalid Mezaina, Rasha Dakkak, Ranim Al Halaky, Xeina AlMalki, Farah Behbehani, Margherita Abi Hanna, Milia Maroun, Mohammed Khoja, May Aboulfaraj, Nasser Al-Salem, Nadine Kanso, and Noor Saab.

The works on display include art, jewelry, fashion, textiles, furniture, ceramics, and objects.

The exhibition is the first of its kind combining classic Arabic calligraphy with artificial intelligence. In this path, artist Michel Paysant presents a new version of his device entitled "Eye Calligraphy Studio — A Constellation of Letters", which is one of the devices capable of exploring the roots of calligraphy and its deep mechanisms.

It was coordinated by Dr. Jerome Nuetres, chief curator of the Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation, Switzerland.

“Scripts and Calligraphy: A Timeless Journey” exhibition is one of multiple activities implemented by the Ministry of Culture under the umbrella of the “Year of Arabic Calligraphy” initiative, in line with the Quality of Life Program, one of the Saudi Vision 2030 programs.

The initiative was launched last year and extended for an additional year to celebrate Arabic calligraphy as a symbol of the Arab identity, a source of inspiration and an essential cultural element in the history of Arab civilization. — SPA

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