This gorgeous example of Mohammed Ehsai's ouevre shows the artist at his most innovative. Effortlessly combining the essential characteristics of Islamic calligraphy with a European aesthetic, Ehsai marries the artistic principles of east and west to create a calligraphy with universal appeal.
Calligraphers of the Islamic world have used text to depict images of animals, plants, objects, such as the sword, and human figures for centuries. Using script to represent the natural world is not a foreign concept. In addition, the use of gold leaf and black ink is a traditional, if luxurious and therefore rarefied, combination usually reserved for manuscript commissions of the highest order.
What is a departure from the canon of Islamic calligraphy is the monumental aspect of the work, its stylised and graphic aesthetic and the lack of importance Ehsai attributes to the sense of the word.
Ehsai deliberately strips letters of their context and meaning, until they evolve into visual images rather than words. In the calligraphic animals of yester-year the picture itself was composed of comprehensible text, thus Ehsai begins a visual discourse rather than a literary one; approaching calligraphy from an artistic, rather than a religious or culturally-centric, perspective.
Yet his calligraphic practice does not lose its importance. Ehsai, a master of calligraphy, meticulously explores the relationships between letters, and even the spaces in between. A letter defines the space against which it stands by means of its thrust and shape, and in this case the letter 'alif' loses none of its bearing whilst simultaneously emulating the curve of a daffodil's stem, and the shiver of its petals.
Daffodils is a rare example of Ehsai departing from his customary repertoire of words and letters intertwined to form dynamic, yet amorphous designs. In this case the letters take on a recognisable appearance whilst losing nothing of their calligraphic impact. It is a fine and unusual interpretation of a still-life by a master of Arabic calligraphy, and is certainly a collector's piece.
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