The elegantly rich art of calligraphy has its place in the Arabic and/ Islamic culture. As stated by historians, the art of calligraphy, including its trade, was born in the first Islamic century. Thus, the “concept of calligraphic correctness—that is, legibility and repeatability—began to emerge among the scribes (katibs). This can be observed in probable first century Koranic texts and the papyrus texts of correspondence between early Muslims.”
According to historical accounts, as religious, social, and political events shaped the development of the art, during the years of Abbasid Caliphate, the art of Calligraphy took center stage in Baghdad –a “great fermenting yeast-bowl of Islamic calligraphy”. The city of Baghdad “saw the consolidation of the art of calligraphy as a fine art (in the classical sense) and the rise of the great founding teachers and their followers.”
During antiquity, generally speaking, calligraphy art was considered “supreme” and “perfected art”; thus, it was believed that only an artist with a pure soul and spiritual devotion –expressing remembrance of the Divine– would achieve exalted skills. Talented calligraphers were venerated and held high positions as “scribes in the Imperial Palace or as teachers of Imperial rulers.”
In modern times, the parameter of Islamic/Arabic art of calligraphy has expanded. We find contemporary art styles and techniques of calligraphy emerging, beyond the Middle East.
Meet Faiza Bayou, an Algerian multidisciplinary artist who is part of a generation of talented new wave artists who are drawing inspiration from earlier periods yet experimenting and incorporating their own found expression and imagination, giving the art of calligraphy new significance. Seemingly adapting to their time, space, and intention.
As a visual art teacher, painter, and illustrator, Bayou frequently uses a technique involving two or more artistic media that are combined in a single composition.
In her mixed media Eternity series, she juxtaposes calligraphy Arabic writings with geometric and lyrical abstract painting on canvas prepared with mortar. At the center, fluidly rendered curved in scripts –a stand-in for the traditional reed pen– merge with brushstrokes of vivid colors, giving it an appealing aesthetics. The elegance of the calligraphy style remains unbroken; imbued with a sense of splendor, it’s positioned largely as the appeal.