Clash of two worlds: Calligraffiti by Abdulrahman Al-Nugamshi

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Updated 23 June 2014
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Clash of two worlds: Calligraffiti by Abdulrahman Al-Nugamshi

The art world is a diverse world full of expectations, surprises, collaborations and ingenuity as well as a heady mix between ancient and modern. There are no limits when it comes to producing pieces of expressionism that define what the artist is trying to portray. What defines an artist is not only his work, it’s also his passion in the pieces he produces and the personal touches that make his piece what it is. Calligraphy is one of the oldest known arts of the Islamic world as well as other cultures such as the Japanese, the Indians and old European too. Calligraphy has since seen a major shift in progressing movement, specifically Arabic calligraphy. With veterans of old Arabic and Islamic calligraphy such as Ibn Muqlah in Iraq during the Abbasi Caliphate or Isaac bin Hamaad in the Syria Region in the early years of the Abbasi Caliphate as well, considered to be the peak period of experimenting and perfecting the Arabic Islamic font. Fonts in the Islamic world have not seen much change except for additions to the number of Arabic fonts until recent times when experimentation has been upgraded to a whole other level.
Many who venture into the world of typography and fonts are introduced to a variety of methods and tools that help them create a font line that portrays their level of creativity, that does not mean that one must find a complex creation for it to be great work. Some of the simplest lines and strokes can be beautiful pieces like in the Japanese or Chinese fonts. One of the bold artists to venture into this world is Abdulrahman Al-Nugamshi, a Saudi calligraffiti artist who by no means found his love for calligraphy from a young age during his elementary school years. “One of my first calligraphy teachers was very passionate about it and for some reason he kept encouraging me and pushed harder with my assignments and school work regarding calligraphy, I didn’t understand his passion at first but now I do,” says Abdulrahman. His interest then expanded into more foreign arts. “I was always fascinated by the Japanese and their use of drawings like their manga and their calligraphy and how smooth and silky it looked, it was very appealing and attracted me at a profound level. I’ve never studied Japanese art form or calligraphy but I was a fond reader and admirer and educated myself through reading and understanding their methods and reasons why they use such materials.”
Though without a university degree, Abdulrahman was able to get into the branding business and then moved on to discovering the strange art of graffiti, and combining it with calligraphy. “I discovered my love for Arabic calligraphy about seven years ago and found that it’s not being used by many in this day and age, it’s been misused and put aside. So I made it my mission to use Arabic in my work because that is what makes me who I am, it makes my work what it is.”
Throughout the discovery time that Abdulrahman was engrossed in, he found it a bit restricted when it comes to use of materials, he wanted to expand and wanted more diversity. It was then that he met what he calls “the godfathers” that influenced many of his ideas, Yoji Shinkawa, Hassan Massoudy, Mouneer El Shaaeani and their influence helped him find what it was he was looking for, thus starting his career into the world of Arabic calligraphy. He was then introduced to Neils Shoe online, the creator of the word “calligraffiti” and method. There was a shift in his style then and there. “I was fascinated with his use of materials, so I started to experiment, starting with a broom on the outside walls of my home. The lines that are produced from a broom have interesting patterns, I trained in using it for three months with frustrating results at first, until slowly I started to understand the use of it and how to manipulate the brush strokes of the broom to get the results I want. It was an accomplishment that I found myself keenly interested in. That was my introduction into the world of calligraffiti,” said Abdulrahman.
“A real artist creates his own material,” is what Abdulrahman believes because of his experiments using different materials such as pieces of silk or fabric in a broom or brush to elongate the paint. Abdulrahman’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed, his work has been the talk of many workshops and designer meets in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and many more places. His work is very personal and yet very much out there for everyone to see and appreciate, you can truly see the beauty of the Arabic language in the unprecedented strokes provided in his work. It is his commitment to the Arabic language that makes it more than special, it makes it unique.
Be sure to follow Abdulrahman’s work on is Instagram and YouTube under the name of Nugamshi. Stay tuned to more of his projects coming up in the next few months.

Email: [email protected]


Inside Marvel’s biggest movie yet

Updated 22 April 2019
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Inside Marvel’s biggest movie yet

  • As ‘Endgame’ approaches for the Avengers, Arab News talks to three of its biggest stars

DUBAI: For the stars of what could well become the biggest movie ever made — “Avengers: Endgame,” the culmination of 11 years of Marvel storytelling, which opens in GCC cinemas April 24 — there is one rule: You do not talk about “Avengers: Endgame.”

The walls of secrecy surrounding the project are impenetrable. After the last installment of the series, “Avengers: Infinity War,” ended with a shocking twist, leaving half of the Avengers — and the universe at large — dead, fans were anxious to find out what happens next. On their latest world tour to support the film, Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) have turned volleying “Endgame” questions back into a sport.

“I’ve gotten real jaded about it. Now I’m really mean about it. I’m just like, ‘Next!’” Johansson tells Arab News.

“In the beginning of this press tour, we would try to skirt around it in these cute ways.” she continues.

“We’d be apologetic about it,” says Rudd.

“We’ve gotten really rough around the edges,” says Johansson.

“We all know the story. We can’t say anything! It’s hard for us but it’s harder for you. It’s tricky. I feel like early on I decided, what should we talk about?” says Rudd.

“We can talk about other stuff, like manscaping,” says Johansson.

“I’ll never not talk about that!” adds Rudd.

Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) kicked off in 2008 with the release of the first “Iron Man “with Robert Downey Jr., it has evolved, turning characters from footnotes to phenomena. Johansson joined Downey in 2010’s “Iron Man 2” to play Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow, a deadly assassin turned S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. “Avengers: Endgame” will mark her eighth film as the character.

“It’s unprecedented (in cinema) to get the opportunity you really only get working on a very successful TV show — to be able to play a character for a decade of time. We’ve had this luxury of going away and doing other work, and then coming back to these movies, so we’ve all kind of grown,” Johansson tells Arab News.

“I can only speak for my experience, but I feel I’ve grown very much as an actor. I don’t believe I could have played this character in its current state, and certainly as you see her in ‘Avengers: Endgame.’ This is just the right time in my life to be able to play a character that’s fully realized like this, and it very much echoes my own journey as an actor or as a person. Who could have ever imagined that this would be so explosive? It’s crazy. It’s mind-blowing.”

Chris Hemsworth, who first played Thor, a character rooted in Norse mythology, in 2011 and is also about to reach his eighth film, began, as much of the cast did, as a fan.

“The first time that the Marvel universe came into my universe back in Australia, I was sitting there, straight out of high school, watching ‘Iron Man,’ thinking, ‘Oh my god, imagine. I wish I could be a part of that world.’ And then a few years on, getting cast in it as Thor, having the opportunity to embark on it. At the time I was wondering if this film even going to make it past DVD into the cinemas? Was I going to be recast?”

Like Johansson, Hemsworth also feels his portrayal of his character has improved with each film. With 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” Hemsworth believes he found his voice as the Norse god of thunder, finally able to put his own stamp on it, working with director Taika Waititi in a looser, more improvisational style. The film — a hit with both critics and audiences worldwide — revitalized the character. With “Endgame,” that tone is likely to continue, Hemsworth tells Arab News.

“There was more improvisation in this than the previous one (“Avengers: Infinity War”). The stakes were as high as they could be, but we found a great way to have another version, or more growth in the character, and found something unexpected again. That was so much fun. I’m very thankful that it happened this way, to finish strong, as opposed to the other way around,” says Hemsworth.

Paul Rudd joined the MCU with 2015’s “Ant-Man,” playing Scott Lang, a petty criminal who finds a suit that allows him to grow and shrink at will. Rudd has been the same reliable comic presence he has been since “Clueless” (1995) and “Anchorman” (2004), and if trailers can be trusted, his inclusion in “Avengers: Endgame” will add levity to the serious emotional weight the film promises.

Rudd has enjoyed digging deeper into Lang in each subsequent MCU appearance, also citing Hemsworth’s evolution as Thor as one that he admires.

“Sometimes you finish a movie and when you’re done filming it, you think ‘Oh, now I’d like to start it, because I finally have a sense of the character.’ In this one, there’s several chances,” he says. “Characters morph and grow, as we do as people. I’m different from who I was three years ago or four years ago. You get to know the character more, you get to know the world more, the other actors better, and as a result you get to go even deeper with the character.

“I look at Thor in the first movie and then in ‘Thor: Ragnarok,’ and what a crazy amazing journey that character has been on,” he continues. “These films provide the opportunity to explore many different facets of the character.”

As much as the respective performances have evolved during 11 years of the MCU, the cultural landscape and conversation around gender has also moved forward, with audiences much less likely to tolerate female characters who are token or one dimensional. Johansson’s Black Widow has evolved with the times.

“The character started as sort of a sexy secretary with a skillset on the side. We didn’t know, or certainly I didn’t know, how the audience would react to the character, my interpretation of the character, who was obviously a beloved character for a long time. I feel the next time we saw her in ‘Avengers’ (2012) she was sort of one of the boys, for better or for worse, and that made sense then,” Johansson says.

“As the fans and the audiences have pushed Marvel and all the studios and filmmakers to really throw up on the screen what represents what’s going on in the zeitgeist, and wanting to see diverse films and casts that represent their own aspirations and how they feel, the character has sort of grown in reaction to that,” she continues. “And the movies have grown in reaction to that fan encouragement.”