Galerie Kashya Hildebrand is proud to pay tribute to five highly respected and celebrated artists from the Middle East. Three years after Beyond Words, our first group show introducing many younger artists from the Middle East to Switzerland, the gallery is now presenting Breaking Boundaries – Contemporary Calligraphy from the Middle East that focuses on the work of five masters from Egypt, Libya, Iran and Tunisia. These artists were very influential in the rise of contemporary Arabic and Persian abstract art, and more notably, contemporary calligraphy. In the 1960s these artists, many of whom studied and lived abroad, were part of new art movements which aimed to merge their traditional heritage with modern abstract and conceptual art movements of the West. Each of these artists have achieved success both at home and abroad and have been included in the world’s most prominent art institutions such as the British Museum or the Centre Pompidou.
Calligraphy holds a special and honoured place in Islamic culture and has been at the core of these artists’ oeuvre. Without denying their cultural heritage these artists have each found their own individual way to break the boundaries of the well-established codes of classic calligraphy using innovation and transformation. Islamic calligraphy has a close affinity with abstract movements, rhythm and patterns. Yet these artists have found their own uniquely personal style in their application of space, form and composition overcoming the constraints of scale and composition by overlapping letters and layers, fragmentation, juxtaposition and repetition.
On seeing this art for the first time, the intrinsic beauty and the balance and rhythm of these paintings immediately capture and touch the viewers, irrespective of whether the texts can be read or not. Though of different origin and living in different countries Breaking Boundaries brings together seminal works of five artists who are united in their art of the written word.