According to early Muslim commentators, the qalam (pen) was the first instrument God invented, and its importance as an artistic medium is highlighted in two exhibitions of contemporary Islamic calligraphy by Husny Dahlan, assistant professor in the department of art at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
“Reflections: Works on Paper”, has come to a close after its opening last month at AG Galeri at Space u8 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and demonstrates the central role calligraphy plays in Dahlan’s current work.
The second exhibition is part of a group show, “Multicultural Expressions of Faith”, an art show hosted by Xavier University at Cincinnati. Two of Dahlan’s works will be represented and will be on view until Oct. 11.
In islamic art, calligraphy has come to represent an expression of the divine. For Dahlan, whose illuminated manuscripts depict verses familiar to Muslim or Arabic readers, transcriptions such as Surah Al-Iklas, which ruminates on the purity of faith to the basmala, a common invocation, are written in a free-form style with roots in Eastern and Western traditions. This spontaneous approach, in contrast to more formal schools of writing, characterizes a unique aspect of Islamic calligraphy.
Weaving geometric patterns between scripts, the act of decoration itself, zakrafah, is meant to beautify sacred revelations and enhance their presence and glory.
“The work is personally meaningful,” said Dahlan. “I have chosen verses that are culturally relevant, informative and educational.”
For more information about the group show at Xavier University, call 513-745-1919. For information about art at UAPB, call 870-575-8236.