Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 March 2018

Abu Dhabi Art: Master calligrapher works with tapestries

Night Journey Ascension, The Cosmic Festivity (2013) by Ahmed Moustafa (Courtesy Kashya Hildebrand Gallery)
Night Journey Ascension, The Cosmic Festivity (2013) by Ahmed Moustafa (Courtesy Kashya Hildebrand Gallery)

Ahmed Moustafa is an Egyptian master calligrapher whose vast and impressive tapestries are showing in Kashya Hildebrand’s booth at Abu Dhabi Art. The five pieces have a mandate be sold together to an institution and it is easy to see why. The quality of the work is outstanding, bringing calligraphy to a new dimension. Moustafa himself, has also spent eight years realising the project and its accompanying book. He is the only Muslim artist to be in the collection of the Vatican and his work deals with “The Attributes of Divine Perfection”, something he tries to manifest in his work.

Here I caught up with him for a quick interview:

Q: I’m really interested in your description of “The Attributes of Divine Perfection” in Islamic geometry and calligraphy. How you tackle the process of representing that in your art?

A: The answer to your question is not an easy task. One of the most important conditions to be fulfilled when I tackle something relevant to the realm of Divine Perfection is firstly to divorce myself from any affiliation with my ego. This is an obligatory prerequisite for sharpening the heart and mind in order to see clearly and meaningfully. This also qualifies the intellect of humankind to grasp the wonders of the correlation between the visible and invisible realities. This is not a straightforward practice, since a successful outcome of this procedure is dependent on a lifetime of contemplation and experience. The next step is just as challenging as the first, where comprehension and meaning have to be coined into signs and symbols capable of bridging the hearts and minds of those who have dived into the sea of creative possibilities as well as those who are in doubt of its existence.

Q: As the only work by a Muslim artist to be in the collection of the Vatican, and having been chosen by Queen Elizabeth II as an official gift during her state visit to Pakistan, how important is cross cultural communication for you as an artist?

A: Being an Egyptian, nothing encouraged me to work from England for the last 40 years more than my belief in the power of art in cross-cultural communication.

Q: The five tapestries that you are displaying at Abu Dhabi Art represent both a spiritual and artistic journey that has been years in the making - would you say they are the culmination of your artistic career?

A: By definition, a spiritual and artistic journey will never come to a culmination. These works represented in the five tapestries are only an important signpost on one of many horizons in my creative career.

Q: Lastly, your book, The Cosmic Script, is an additional aspect for the show. Why did you choose Abu Dhabi as a city for the launch of this book?

A: I was very fortunate that the completion of The Cosmic Script happened to coincide with the Abu Dhabi Art Fair. However, any introduction to this publication is not to be seen as an official launch, but advancing the awareness of its forthcoming official launch in London on November 21st.

I hope we will be able to work with the Abu Dhabi cultural officials to formerly launch this publication in early 2015.

* Ahmed Moustafa’s tapestries can be seen at Kashya Hildebrand’s booth B14 at Abu Dhabi Art, which runs until Saturday at Manarat Al Saadiyat.

For more information visit www.kashyahildebrand.org