Text and Texture

Rashid Arshed’s TEXT & TEXTURE opens at Koel Galllery on Feb 27, 2018 and continues till March 8, 2018.

My practice of writing Takhti (wooden tablet) began in my mother’s lap. Perpetual practice together with exposure to vernacular literature, books and old manuscripts developed into a love and admiration of the art of beautiful writing.
From the very beginning, instead of readable text, I have been using the elements of calligraphy to explore the aesthetics and to capture its spirit. In doing so, I have tried to answer a question of fundamental importance. How does a contemporary calligraphic painting differ from traditional calligraphy? The question is not about
which one is better or superior. The traditional Islamic calligraphy with innumerable styles, Khat, evolved since the rise of Islam and reached the epitome of grace and beauty during the Ottoman period. There are several factors which need to be kept in mind when we examine the traditional calligraphy and contemporary
calligraphic paintings. Notwithstanding the innumerable innovations and variations in each style, a traditional calligrapher is restricted by the rigid discipline that has been handed down for centuries. In many scripts precise measurements are required when executing horizontal, vertical and diagonal strokes, or a curvilinear form. It would be correct to assert that a geometric grid, visible or invisible, is followed in many styles. This discipline is achieved through rigorous eye and hand training. On the other hand, a contemporary artist has unrestricted freedom to break the barriers of tradition and push the boundaries of creativity to the best of his capacity. His palette and his canvas, in literal and in metaphorical terms, are as vast as his imagination. This freedom also lends to a variety of expressions – from painterly to abstract and from impressionistic to expressionistic.
For me, the subject of Calligraphy is the expression of peace, serenity and spiritualism. The inherent mystic quality of the Arabic characters, together with chromatic, tactile and spatial dispensations, imbues a spiritual aura into a calligraphic painting and the act of painting itself becomes meditative.
– Rashid Arshed


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