Non-traditional artwork: Two artists showcase contemporary calligraphy, paintings

The intertwined scripts, intricate details and symbolism make for an appealing mix.

Maryam Usman July 08, 2014

ISLAMABAD: An exhibition of contemporary calligraphy and paintings opened up at My Art World gallery on Monday.

Titled “Alfaaz”, the exhibition features artworks by Rabia Malik and Mahjabeen Atif, with each artist exhibiting nine pieces.

Unlike most run-of-the-mill, traditional calligraphy pieces, the artwork on display is a combination of contemporary styles and techniques and in some places they comprise only the Arabic alphabet that may or may not make up actual words. This lends the collection an open-ended feel. However, the intertwined scripts, intricate detailing and symbolism make for a visually-appealing mix.

While Atif has painted traditional Islamic calligraphy in a contemporary manner, Malik has created compositions of Arabic font. “The two artists complement each other through their artworks,” said Zara Sajid, the gallery curator, adding, “the artwork is not just restricted to Islamic calligraphy as some of these paintings don’t have any meaning to them and that is the best part about it.”

“Traditional calligraphy is done a certain way and it follows certain rules. We wanted to have contemporary calligraphy exhibition. You hardly see mix media calligraphy,” she further said.

Graduates of the National College of the Arts in Rawalpindi, both the artists have also trained under the calligraphy exponents Rasheed Butt and Gohar Qalam who have their own distinct styles. Both of the contemporary artists have emulated the established calligraphers and managed to carve out their individual styles, taking influences from each.

Malik’s colour palette uses soft, subtle tones to create Arabic font. She has used mix media including dyes, acrylic and oil paints and gesso for composing the bold letters, loopy fonts and fine inky strokes. Her body of artworks exudes a solid, static feel.

On the other hand, Atif’s canvases are much more vibrant, employing a bright colour palette including neon and peacock colours. The large scale canvases exude fluidity and movement. She has used tea wash, layering it with oil paint in one of the pieces. While keeping in sync with the bold colours, she uses bright red in almost each of her artworks.

The current exhibition will continue at the gallery, House 5 A, Agha Khan Road, Sector F-6/3 until August 7. The artworks can also be viewed on the gallery’s website: Proceeds from the exhibition will be sent to the internally displaced persons of North Waziristan during Ramazan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.


ali | 6 years ago | Reply

beautiful artwork by the emerging talent of Pakistan, much appreciated efforts by "myartworld" art gallery except the curator of the art gallery. She is the most arrogant, rude, proud and immature girl. It is a humble request to replace her with some sensible, decent and mature person.

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