Wissam Shawkat

 
 
 
 

 

WISSAM SHAWKAT
b. 1974, Basra, Iraq.

Education
1996 B.A., Basra University, Basra, Iraq.

Selected Solo Exhibitions
2016 Monumental forms, Islamic Art Festival “ Bunyan “, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE. 2015 Monumental 11/11, Tashkeel Gallery, Dubai. 2012 “Letters of Love”, in Collaboration with MontBlanc, Dubai. 2011 “Letters of Love”, Reedspace Art Gallery, Manhattan, NY. Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Art, Doha, Qatar. 1994 Calligraphy Exhibition, University of Basra. 1993 Calligraphy Exhibition, University of Basra.

Group Exhibitions
2016 “ The Perpetual Kingdom”, Contemporary Arabic calligraphy , Dubai, UAE. “Words are rain that grows flowers “, Group modern calligraphy exhibition, Etihad modern art gallery, Abu Dhabi, UAE. 2014 “Al Mohaqqaq”, Dubai Arabic Calligraphy Center Exhibition, The cultural and Scientific Association, Dubai. 2013 “Islamic Arts – Arabic Calligraphy”, Dubai Arabic Calligraphy Center Exhibition with collaboration of Ara Gallery, Dubai. 2012 “THE BEAUTY OF CALLIGRAPHY”, Pro Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE. “Right to Left – Arab and Iranian visual cultures “ , Berlin, Germany. “Modernism – Arabic Calligraphy in a contemporary context”, Dubai Arabic Calligraphy Center Exhibition, Ara Gallery, Dubai. “ Azf Al Harf “, Qatar National Convention Centre, Doha, Qatar. Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial, Sharjah, UAE. 2011 “Hurouf Al Noor”, Contemporary Calligraphy Exhibition, Tashkeel, Dubai. “The Mashq”, Dubai Arabic Calligraphy Center Exhibition, Cuadro Fine Art Gallery, DIFC, Dubai. 2010 “Hurouf: The Art of the Word”, Sothebys Auction Exhibition, The Ritz Carlton, Doha, Qatar. “The will of the Reed “, Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition, Emirates palace, Abu Dhabi. “Visual & Audible” Calligraphy Exhibition, Sharjah, UAE. 2009 “Letters, Arabic arts and Calligraphy”, with Mont Blanc and Meem Gallery, Dubai Mall. The Holy Qur’an Exhibition, The Farjam Collection, DIFC, Dubai, UAE. “Al Basmalah”, The Farjam Collection Gallery, Dubai, UAE. 2008 DIFC Arabic Calligraphy Collection, Dubai. Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial, Sharjah, UAE. 2007 Dubai International Calligraphy Exhibitions, Dubai, UAE. The Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition in the Royal Library in Denmark under the title "The Black Diamond”. Sharjah Days in Vienna – Austria for Arabic Calligraphy, Vienna. The Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition in Germany. 2005 2004 2003 Dubai International Calligraphy Exhibitions, Dubai, UAE. 2003 2002 2001 “Visual & Audible” Calligraphy Exhibition, Sharjah, UAE. 2000 “Air from Baghdad”, Group Calligraphy Show, Saint-Angelo, Italy. 1998 4th Baghdad International Calligraphy Festival, Baghdad, Iraq. 1989 National Exhibition for Arabic Calligraphy, Baghdad, Iraq. 1996 The Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition, Basra, Iraq.

Curator and Jury Committees
Served as Curator, nominating and jury committees of national and international competitions and exhibitions 2015 “Jali Diwani”, Dubai Arabic Calligraphy Center Exhibition, Dubai. 2014 Al “Al Mohaqqaq”, Dubai Arabic Calligraphy Center Exhibition, Dubai. 2012 Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial, Sharjah, UAE. 2010 “The Mashq”, Dubai Arabic Calligraphy Center Exhibition, Dubai, UAE. 2009 5th. International Annual poster typography Competition and Exhibition, Teheran Museum of Art, Iran. Al Basmalah Exhibition, Dubai, UAE. 2008 Dubai Holding Fine Art Awards, Dubai, UAE. Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial, Sharjah, UAE. Dubai International calligraphy Exhibition, Dubai, UAE. 2007 The 2nd Annual calligraphy exhibition, Muscat, Oman. Dubai International calligraphy Exhibition, Dubai, UAE. 2006 Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial, Sharjah, UAE. 2005 Dubai International calligraphy Exhibition, Dubai, UAE. 2004 Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial, Sharjah, UAE. Member of Judging Committee in Sultan Al Owaise Award for UAE nationals in the Art of Arabic Calligraphy, Dubai. “Visual & Audible” Calligraphy Exhibition, Sharjah, UAE.

Residencies, Achievements & Awards
2008 3rd prize Winner of Al Burda International Calligraphy Competition, Abu Dhabi, UAE, in both the classic and the contemporary section. Prize in Jally Diwani style, Al-Baraka Turk Bank Calligraphy Competition, Istanbul, Turkey. 2007 2nd prize Winner of Al Burda International Calligraphy Competition, Abu Dhabi, UAE, in the classic section. 3rd prize Winner of Al Burda International Calligraphy Competition, Abu Dhabi, UAE, in the contemporary section. 2005 3rd prize Winner for Jally Thuluth style, Al-Baraka Turk Bank Calligraphy Competition, Istanbul, Turkey. 3rd prize Winner, International Calligraphy Competition (IRCICA), Istanbul, Turkey. 2003 1st prize Winner of the Visual & Audible Arabic calligraphy Exhibition, Sharjah, UAE. 2002 Winner of the Iraqi Calligraphy Society prize, Baghdad, Iraq. Award, International Calligraphy Competition (IRCICA), Istanbul, Turkey. 2000 Commendation Prize, Dar Al-Salam 3rd Arabic Calligraphy & Islamic Ornamentation Festival, Baghdad, Iraq. 1998 Commendation Prize Winner in 4th Baghdad International Calligraphy Festival, Baghdad, Iraq. 1996 Prize, Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition, Basra, IRAQ. 1989 Excellent standing Award, National Exhibition for Arabic Calligraphy, Baghdad, Iraq.

Academic Endeavors
2016 Lecture and Workshop on Calligraphy & Arabic Type Design, Arabic Type Design Beirut, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon. Workshop Leader, Tashkeel Art Center, Dubai, UAE. Speaker at Lynx award, Dubai. Speaker and workshop leader, ING creative conference, Dubai Design District, Dubai. 2015 Workshop Leader, Tashkeel Art Center, Dubai, UAE. Lecture, “Arabic matchmaking of Latin logotypes”, Dubai International Arabic calligraphy Exhibition, Dubai, UAE. 2014 Arabic Calligraphy and Logo Design Lecture, Kuwait Islamic Art Center, Kuwait. 2012 Arabic Calligraphy workshop leader, The Pavilion Downtown, Dubai. Lecture, “Contemporary Arabic Calligraphy in Design”, American University in Dubai, Visual Communication Dept., Dubai, UAE. Khatt Foundation Type Design Workshop 2, Lecture and Workshop on Naskh and Kufi Calligraphy, Tashkeel Art Center, Dubai, UAE. Lecture, “Calligraphy: Tradition to Contemporary Practice”, Qatar Foundation and the Graphic Design Department of Virginia Commonwealth University Graphic Design Dept., Doha, Qatar. Lecture, “Thoughts on Modern calligraphy”, Zayed University, Dubai, UAE. Calligraphy workshop, VCU Qatar, Doha. 2011 Lecture, “Thoughts on Modern calligraphy”, Qatar Foundation and the Graphic Design Department of Virginia Commonwealth University Graphic Design Dept., Doha, Qatar. Khatt Foundation Type Design Workshop, Lecture on contemporary Calligraphy, The Pavillion Downtown Dubai, UAE. 2009 Calligraphy workshop, VCU Qatar, Doha. Arabic Calligraphy workshop leader, Al Basmalah Exhibition, DIFC, Dubai. Workshop Leader, Tashkeel Art Center, Dubai, UAE. Guided tour of The Holy Quran Exhibition, The Farjam Collection, DIFC, Dubai, UAE. “The Influence of Islamic Art on Contemporary Practices”, Panel Discussion, The Farjam Collection, Dubai, UAE. 2008 Workshop Leader, Tashkeel Art Center, Dubai, UAE. “Introduction to Islamic Art”, Calligraphy Workshop, Canvas Education Seminar, Abu Dhabi, UAE. 2007 START Calligraphy Day of Fun, Workshop, Word into Art, DIFC, Dubai. 2005 Calligraphy workshop, Dubai International Calligraphy Exhibition, Dubai.

Publications and Press

2015 Typism, Book 2, Finesse Press.
2012 Hand To Type, Gestalten, 2012. Logo Lounge 7, Rockport, 2012. Los Logos 6, Gestalten, 2012. Letter Arts Review, The Annual Juried Issue, 2012.
2011 Arabesque 2, Graphic Design from the Arab World and Persia, Gestalten, 2011. The World Encyclopedia of Calligraphy, Sterling, 2011. Letter Arts Review, The Annual Juried Issue, 2011. Letter Arts Review, Article “ The Art and Graphic works of Wissam Shawkat”, 2011.  
2010 Los Logos 5, (Los Logos Compass), Gestalten, 2010. Letter Arts Review, The Annual Juried Issue, 2010. Letter Arts Review, Article “ Zoomorphs”, 2010.  
2009 Letter Arts Review, The Annual Juried Issue, 2009. Basic Logos, Index Book, 2009. New vision, Arab Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, 2009.
2008  Los Logos 4, Gestalten, 2008. Arabesque, Graphic Design from the Arab World and Persia, Gestalten, 2008.

 

Artist Statement 

I am a calligrapher turned conceptually motivated artist. How does someone self-trained in the most rigid, rule-based medium break out into abstraction? Now more than 30 years into my calligraphy practice, I dutifully studied traditional scripts, compositions, and forms until at last I felt qualified to judge which principles could be overridden and unbound, and which were to remain.

Before calligraphy was canonized as a form it was once considered revolutionary and experimental. My practice is an effort to take it back to that disorientingplace that teeters on the edge of what is known and what is unfamiliar.

I am drawn to the graphic value of the Arabic letters well beyond their literal meanings. For instance, the sharp tail of a ‘ha’ can be cut off from the curved body of the letter and serialized with pen or brush at unrecognizable angles.

Although it may have initially come to me by meditating upon a letter, the ultimate shape is a monumental form that is not exclusively anchored in the Arab world. I am moved as much by old Turkish masters as I am by the Bauhaus, GeometricAbstraction, Futurism, Cubism, and Cecil Touchon’s collages.

Beginning with this new body of work, I have chosen to refer to my style and approach as Calligraform. This refers to the emphasis on the forms of the letters, their inner and outer spaces and graphic quality, investigated in tandem with the precise shapes of calligraphic characters.

Wissam Shawkat, 2016

 

Artist Biography

Wissam Shawkat is a conceptually motivated artist with mastery in Arabic calligraphy. Born in 1974 in Basra (Iraq), he was first introduced to Arabic calligraphy at the age of 10 by his primary school teacher Muhammad Ridha Suhail.

Shawkat is largely self-taught in the rigorous medium, attaining mastery through book research, visits to various masters, museum and library collections throughout the region.

He has received numerous prizes for his calligraphy and has participated as both an artist and committee member at multiple editions of the Sharjah CalligraphyBiennial and the Dubai International Calligraphy Exhibition.

Letters of Love, his 2011 solo exhibition at Reed Space in New York, introduced a global audience to a series of contemporarycompositions. With Monumental 11/11, a 2016 exhibition at Tashkeel (an influential creative hub and gallery in Dubai), Shawkat visually announced his break with traditional calligraphy and his commitment to instead use the letters as a foundation for works of dynamic abstraction.

His style, which is referred to as Calligraform, focuses on the precise forms of the letters, but also the abstract shapes generated by examining the geometric spaces inside and outside of their structures.

Shawkat is based in Dubai, where he is engaged full time as an artist, designer, and Arabic typographer. His work is regularly featured in books on Arabic calligraphy and typography, included in museum exhibitions, and acquired byprivate collectors.