Arabic calligraphy: from language to modern art

Nayera Yasser
4 Min Read

A few months ago, the internet was taken by storm when a small piece of paper drew attention to the capital’s biggest mischief maker.

Local calligrapher Mohamed Abido started a movement when he wrote maysahesh keda (this is unacceptable) on a piece of paper to showcase the power of his art.

By positioning the timeless elegance of Arabic fonts in front of distorted and polluted backgrounds, Abido has managed to advocate for calligraphy and fight corruption.

This promising artist is a member of the country’s rising squad of calligraphers who aim to reposition it as a premium type of modern art.

From walls to paintings, and even leaves, Abido hardly ever spares an empty space without bestowing part of his soul upon it. With a background in engineering, he has managed to modernise calligraphy and introduce it to a new base of enthusiasts.

Daily News Egypt met with Abido to discuss calligraphy, art, and misguided stereotypes.

Abido aims to turn calligraphy into a premium and accessible form of art (Photo from Facebook)
Abido aims to turn calligraphy into a premium and accessible form of art
(Photo from Facebook)

How would you define your style of art?

Calligraphy merges the boundaries between fonts, the Arabic language, and art. My personality as an artist comes out in the way I arrange the letters and the designs I choose, giving my work a unique factor that specialised artists and calligraphy fans can easily recognise

Why did you specialise in Arabic calligraphy, and where did you learn to master it?

At the beginning, my friends were my only fans. They encouraged me to pursue calligraphy further, as a career, despite my family’s contentious rejection. A few local experts have also encouraged me along the way and tutored me to help develop my skills.

I learned the craft through courses, as well as continued trial and error. The encouragement from artists and experts increased when they realised my true potential.

Besides canvas, what other materials do you use to create your art?

I literally draw on everything that touches my hand. I have worked with cars, bags, shoes, musical instruments, motorcycles, and even people. I try not to miss anything without drawing on it.

How do you aim to increase public awareness of calligraphy?

By further developing my personal work and reaching out to a wider spectrum of fans and enthusiasts. Personally, I aim to keep working on my skills so that I will never be limited.

When I first started, many people thought that I was writing magic spells or curses, but people are starting to understand my art, bit by bit.

How did maysahesh keda change you as an artist and to what extent did it increase your fan base?

It definitely helped me reach out to more fans. In fact, it introduced Arabic calligraphy to a lot of people, even if it wasn’t in the right artistic context. Nonetheless, it introduced me to political conflicts and arguments that I normally try my best not to interfere with.

How can fans of Arabic calligraphy bring it into their homes and lifestyle?

It all depends on the individual’s appreciation of calligraphy and art. Personally, I draw on everything around me. Those who are into any sort of art can apply it to their surroundings. A few of my digital followers have already asked me to decorate their houses and offices.

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