Some fine calligraphies may be perceived as an ornate (floriated) bouquet of letters waltzing in a meandric maze, where both the entry and the way out seem rather intricate and reciprocally reliant. The convolution involves bondage of letters, and degrees of cleavages between letters. Whether the letters stand alone or are chained to one another, as well as the elongation of their bondage, they offer a complex tribute to beauty. The reading thread takes a while to be properly handled and even then, the reader is compelled to wander through the musical slopes of varying scripts, often dwelling in a defined space (constricted or expanded) of a manuscript, a canvas or an outdoor monumental sculpture. The dancing letters when hungry for geometry, may then reunite in a circle or a square or both, according to the mind and hand monitoring in unison the calame tool, which shuns erratic creativity in its various endeavors..
Secular contemporary calligraphy does not betray former and pious forms of embodiment of letters. The traditional musical network remains and gets enriched by new notes, allowing subtle changes in their anatomy. Further, the classical partition built on centuries of devotional practice, is considered as the noble arcane of what contemporary calligraphers respectfully refer to. Indeed, we consider that compositions in two or three dimensions, do not desert the roots of classical calligraphy, as cursive scripts voice allegiance to their former peers, while venturing on new avenues of the art form, in order to produce new musicality hence, leading the path to abstract calligraphy.
Indeed, our purpose is to determine how some compositions build a bridge between calligraphy and abstract art, regardless at this stage, of the significance of the script.
It may seem odd to focus our chronicle, on contemporary calligraphy and most of all, begin with the enigmatic and eventful composition titled Movement and dated 2011 by Abdallah Akar. The audacity resides both in the anatomy of letters and their relationship with one another, on a field where motion is propelled through a succession of spatial planes introducing a strong interplay between transparency and opacity. The deliberate transparency of the red color produces a sound both unique in terms of impact and recurrrent as it is fractioned. Close waves of shrilling tone are crashing against the deep and long tone of black color.
Calligraphy implies poise and beauty in balance and challenges us to find out by what means and to what degree, the artist performs it.
The composition introduces a square that welcomes the forms offering a thick rain of diagonals.The black and red alliance is not unusual and the prevalence of black as the leading architect of the composition is rather expected, if not mandatory. The letters are large and shut the right bottom side of the composition when the reading normally starts. The vivid red is provocative and the choice of the artist to assign it on the foreground is daring. At first, we wonder which sustains the other, is it black or red or, perhaps both...
There is no sign of schism between the black and red letters but rather a new sense of unity, and according measured proportions with even red squares and red letters of similar height introducing a powerful contrast with the collapse of the black letters occuring in the center of the composition. The artist favors width and height scale variations for the black letters either thrusting for space on the canvas or, presumably seeking refuge among themselves. The background contributes to the unity achieved through veiled white that propitiously covers and softens a number of black dancing letters. The recurrence of the veiled black under semi transparent white causes void restriction on the field of the canvas, which yields to the authoritative sonority of architectured black letters of the middle ground. The veiled letters have not been erased and their muffled sound provides life, as well as depth to the background.
Further, dense black and transparent red are either flowing or arranged into colluding diagonals.. A secular trinity allowing a local fragmentation of monolithic black into white, and a revised hierarchy of appearance in spatial expectation and organisation.
The fragmentation of black contradicts the dramatic entrance of red.
The overal composition screams potency and we intrude in some noisy rush (the event is still happening) caused by a flock of hasty letters. Although the usual reading is done from right to left, we have a propensity to read on the left rather, in spite of the fact that the reading bounces back to the right and back again. Indeed, the black square does not prevent such inclination. The motion is ignited from right to left but can be read both ways. The responsible letters stumbling on one another, venture to disobey the rule of perfect alignment, as they declare revised spatial positions proning a diagonal arrangement and going as far as overlapping on one another.
Black is clearly the skeleton of the composition but how is red liable to black ?
The reader follows the black letters in their submission to white, black’s supremacy on white, black next to white, red over black, red over white, and red next to black. The pattern in its mentioned plurality is undividable and synchronized, which produces a strong visual impact that precedes any reading of the letters. Consider color planes as spatial planes and we begin to understand the relation between letters differently. Letters become essential shapes introducing 1/3 red against 2/3 of black.
The assignement of red, besides the primary one which is to build a vivid and bright foreground, is to counterbalance black angularity and allow a respite between letters and within the bound letters, providing fluidity to the dense image. Gracefulness recedes in favor of potency and motion prevails in a loop.
The triptych is a sequence introducing within a given set of letters, a modularity.
By modularity, we refer to the ability of various sister forms to reconsider their spatial growth and occupancy. The overall sequence is split in three interacting images, presenting a visually similar set that answers a reading continuity with three levels of interaction detected within each canvas. The canvases are bonded in spatial relevance as well as chromaticity. The sequence has a beginning and an end not by the prevalence of the letters’s meaning but, by the forms produced by the letters themselves and their mutual relation. The recombination does not exclude singularity to arise, despite a persisting trilogy. Indeed, the invariance lies in the number of colors, the number of canvases and the number of spatial planes. However, invariance coexists with modularity and letters become abstract forms, that are recombined in each canvas, which can be read as a meaningful single painting part of a regulated set. Therefore we refer to shaped letters instead of letters as we would in traditional calligraphy. By doing so,
We separate and recompose the forms that ordain the overall image.
Each canvas obeys to a false independence in spite of the red letters propensity to slit in three, the spatial occupancy of the image hence, the reading.
We can isolate a shaped letter such as the black letters in the background acting as the main compact architecture which undergoes combinatorial heights and terminations. The red letters offer a recombination with red and blue interacting differently within each canvas. However red acts as an obvious variable collider, common to the three paintings in its direction path and motion. The coupling of red and blue together with white, introduces a dynamic perturbation in the trajectory of red alone. The red colluder is daring and disrupts the legibility of letters. The sequence becomes an abstract painting made of letters coexisting with one another and more so, of shaped letters welcoming color in order to increase or decrease intensity of tone and transparency.
The examination of the shaped letters of red reveals a deliberate agitation where black shaped letters (new scale) invade red shaped letters undergoing some transformation due to the occurence of white and blue that struggling for space on red territorial occupancy. Stains of blue are perceptible whether they refer to letters or not.
The artist treats color as a paradoxical variable.
The three main colors undergo transformation and point out a striking restricted palette.
Indeed, black becomes a color that is darker or lighter, and that presents unexpected definitions of black. Further, black relinquinshes chroma in favor of the whiteness of the canvas, or undergoes an alliance with red, enabling a dark red to arise. Blue becomes gravity free, whilst red persists with its perturbative energy and intrusive behavior over black. However, the onset of red itself is questioned by another intruder conveying another dynamic spatial plane. At first, the observation reveals the coupling of red and blue; the observation is revised then and reveals the true coupling of blue and white. Indeed, the real alliance is between blue and white which convey airiness to the compact ensemble of shaped letters. The coupling is mostly invariant (blue & white remain together) but offers a singularity in its spatial occupancy in each canvas.
The varying circles in the foreground achieve to convey speed of motion.
The Chabbi composition presents a particular geometry involved in a formidable motion with a mere palette of black, red, and white.
The initial planar geometry of dimensions is challenged by a strong whirling motion which causes shapes and lines to collude, inflicting to the canvas various types of engrams. We observe an inclination to spherical geometry (right canvas) despite the parallel lines of fierce diagonals. The colluding diagonals (left canvas) probe space and confront the black and white textual verticality. The textual verticality is meaningful since it bridges both canvases at their intersection.
The ordained texts claim allegiance to academic alignment but their spatial transparency allows the whirling motion to proceed, undisturbed. The deliberate sheerness introduces a dimension by pushing both texts towards the surface of the canvas. We therefore distinguish the surface planes from the middle planes and the background planes.
All planes involved in the whirling constant motion and variable speed with the background showing a higher velocity. Therefore continuity of motion infers variability as well.
Both texts stand on an airy spatial plane with terminations that seem almost dissolved. The whirling underneath stains with black and red their linear space. Letters are still legible but yield to the acceleration of motion. Different planes can be considered, between the diagonals on the left, themselves introducing scaling planes in their generic direction. The colored planes would suffice to create depth, but the artist allows them to serve letters by acting as their see -through background. The letters presenting a rhythm of shining black or white plane with white mirroring black.
The spatial dimensions answer the direction taken by the above mentioned diagonals: either joined or distanced from one another thus, creating the illusion of depth. We notice the etched terminations of the red or black planes heading towards the fleeting geometry of the second canvas.
The strong confrontation of both geometries introduces the notion of elaborate betweenness.
In the second canvas we observe the whirling draw the outline of two almost congruent circles. They stand on top of one another united in fleetingness of motion which explains why their body lacks color except for the black stain below which answers a flamboyant red over to the top. Verticality of transformative shapes together translate the roundness of the whirl that meets (intersection) a line of shining letters.
The propensity to use various degrees of transparency is strongly reminiscent of the faceting of stones that enables the capture of light in order to then release it. The directional dimension of facets aim to reflect light whether it is a colorless or pigmented such as what we observe here with alternating black versus red. The more facets in a stone, the more light and vibrancy is obtained. It is therefore plausible to consider that the artist cuts dimensional planes in each composition, providing a common trait of similitude between compositions whilst, each single composition stands out, confirming the rule that no one reflects light as the others do. We refer here to their equivalence, inferring that each composition sustains the preceding one and foretells the coming one ; all compositions are the related elements of a corpus driven by the recursive exploration of light in motion being captured, tamed by geometry to be more or less released back to the surface, according to a variable geometrical projection. An interesting example is black projected to the surface of the canvas by the uncompleted motion of the bottom sphere of the right canvas.
The utmost motion being the irresistible engulfment which undergoes various stages of completion in each composition.
A partial view of thin curved lines define the main perimeter of action in the composition titled Carnet de Notes.
The lines are black and loose claiming no particular geometry. Boundaries are elusive despite a main action taking place with upfront columns of text. The trajectory of the loose lines is perturbed by obstructive spatial dimensions positioned in tight vicinity. The elusiveness as well as the observed curvature of lines indicate a pattern of turbulence with variable intensities according to the portion of the composition which is under observation.
One dimension calls for another one, on large stains of black dwelling in a wide portion of the composition. Two uneven trails of black tear the parameterized dimensions made of rectangular ordained texts. The play of scale infers depth and introduce a focus which is off centered. The dimensional space is multiplied by each column of text.
One diagonal heads towards the right lower end of the canvas, hence shutting the way out. Another diagonal with pointed edges, in parallel with the first one, colludes with three looming black stains. The letters are locked in sheer variable and rectangular grounds, allowing no letter to escape. The closed forms contradict the black loose lines as well as the sharp uneven diagonals tearing the composition.
Motion seems hardly curbed and near implosion.
The impact of red is significant as it both catches the eye and answers rough diagonals and stains. The density of the black stains adds to the tension and stains of red enhance the feel of a leaking system close to divide it self. Light enters between the leaking red stain and the upper wide black stain.
It bounces back, unable to remain within the composition which recalls aniconic art when what is shown becomes less important than what is concealed.
The composition Constellation by Abdallah Akar depicts an unstable cosmology of letters involving a population composed mainly of transformative spherical shapes and letters.
The letters are gravitating around black spherical shapes involved in high speed of spinning. Their evolutive motion is contradicting the engulfing motion (conflicting forces) of the displaced letters. The letters seem animated with a powerful will becoming a chain reaction of a generic and circular motion.
The whole composition is the expression of inner forces imploding within a system.
We observe on the left, a spatial focus which acts as an irresistible magnet to the hasty letters. Whether the spinning has just started or is in its final stage is hard to assess. Indeed, the final action does not occur (time scale) in the center but on the left upper side of the painting. Group of letters rotate around the borders of the canvas, to finally engulf in the left upper side of the painting.
Due to the extreme agitation of letters, the spinning of spherical shapes, seems to occur simultaneously while we observe initial flocks of letters being already engulfed, others being formed and heading towards the engulfment, being their final destination. A hierarchy of scale between the letters and precedence in action is observed. The spinning circles resist (repulsive force) the overwhelming motion of black letters; the dramatic action(s) reaches its climax with the unstable shapes colluding either with one another or with trails of color either shunning letters or drowning them. Some letters are distanced by others and the perturbation produces a curvature in their body as they are struggling to find their way. Vital space seems to rarify in the composition where some dimensionless letters lack privacy of their own, as they are invaded and collude with each other. The propagation of motion occurs in various dimensions involving first colonies of letters in motion underneath others. Motion takes place underneath, and at the surface of the composition with bold letters stepping on the white side.
The vivid color map introduces spatial dimensions which are challenged when they come into contact and enhance the interference of letters.
Although the (sequenced) distribution of color seems regulated, the brutal (multi-directional) strokes of yellow, red and blue are responsible for the inception of a spatial distortion, increased by the conflicting forces (warm colors next to cold colors).
Amidst what appears to be an uproar of angry letters, the system introduces a hierarchy in size, color and distance which is orchestrated with a dramatic play of scale and interaction of color and light to convey utmost expression ranging from weak to strong, according to the density assigned to letters ringing in harmony or disrupted by trails of color.Such observation is in conformity with the rule that within a given system, the greater the mass, the greater the force is propelled. No pattern is clearly discernible yet, dashing lines, violent trails of single color and letters are assembled to produce a gravitational symphony defying invariance.
By Sylvie Samani