Improvisation

Karam Ali Shirazi

December 2011

Calligraphy is an art commonly practiced in Iran, Turkey and the Arab world and has a deep route in their culture, literature and architecture. There are more than 60 countries that write in the same alphabet. Shirazi believes that the distinction of Persian calligraphy from others is in the process, which has to do with capturing every creative moment of artists deep feeling in his artwork.

In traditional practice of calligraphy, the artist first draws the outline of the intended design with a fine light colored pencil, like using a stencil. Then with pen and ink fills the letters and at the end with a fine steel pen cleans all the imperfection. This system of calligraphy has been the practice throughout ages specially when it came to writing large letters (wider than 5 mm). Shirazi believes that this system of calligraphy is more a craft than art. Calligraphy like other forms of art is meant to be a mirror of artists soul and should reflect his feeling. This vision elevates Shirazi to an outstanding artist who not only creates exceptional masterpieces but also makes this process a journey to observe and experience. Rapid yet accomplished gesture of his hand and body, the soft movement of his pen with ink, the highlights in his lines and unpredictability in his compositions are what make Shirazi's art unique.

Shirazi is known as the best scripter of Nastaliq style of calligraphy in the region. Calligraphy in his practice is instantaneous, spontaneous and expressive. Mastering classical calligraphy for over 35 years had given Ali Shirazi the skill to move forward and break boundaries by exploring new means to fulfill his creative desires. He first demonstrated his improvisation style in a series of calligraphy paintings (acrylic on canvas) in 1994 in Barg Gallery in Tehran. Years later, these artworks were published in an album called Ghasedak.

He once again returned to calligraphy paintings/improvisation style in 2008, which resulted an exhibition of 20 artworks in Pardis Mellat Gallery in Tehran in 2010. Shirazi sees his new artworks as a continuation of Siyah Mashq (doodling), in a way of practicing by repeating letters, words and sentences over and over again to excel in writing, known in the art history specifically in the Qajar period.

Having exhibited in Total Arts Gallery in several occasions in the past, he is back with his new collection of large pieces of contemporary Persian and Arabic calligraphy. His work has been extensively exhibited worldwide and been collected by major museums and private collections throughout the Islamic world.

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