Calligraphy artist Wissam Shawkat seeks to break the mold after mastering classic styles

Wissam Shawkat pictured at Tashkeel in Dubai. (Arab News)
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Updated 30 March 2020

Calligraphy artist Wissam Shawkat seeks to break the mold after mastering classic styles

DUBAI: “If you continue practicing calligraphy in its traditional scripts, that’s a limitation by itself,” Iraqi artist Wissam Shawkat told Arab News while explaining the need to master the craft and then innovate to push Arabic calligraphy into the future.

“I mean I am not against learning traditional scripts. I’ve been doing calligraphy for almost 35 years, but I arrived to a point that if you continue like doing only traditional scripts at the end you are just copying what's been done 100 years ago,” Shawkat, who is based in Dubai, explained.




'Lost in Love' by Wissam Shawkat. (Supplied)

The artist’s passion for calligraphy started in 1984, when his art teacher decided to, for a day, teach them the skill instead of drawing, he said. “So, he held the chalk on the side and wrote four letters of Ruqa’a style, which is (a) very basic style in calligraphy, but as a kid this has a very big impact on me,” Shawkat said. It was then Shawkat learned to appreciate the beauty of the Arabic letter — “aalligraphy became an obsession,” he said.




'Quad Love' by Wissam Shawkat. (Supplied)

After training as a civil engineer, Shawkat decide to switch careers and dived into life as a calligraphy artists. And he achieved fame along the way, having worked with the likes of Tiffany & Co. and Hermes.




'Something' by Wissam Shawkat. (Supplied)

“Usually, the traditional way of learning calligraphy comes with the relationship of the master and the student. You have like a master, you study with him, (and) he guides you in certain forms.” But as a child, Shawkat did not have the “luxury” of having an educator. So, according to him, he had to depend on himself to learn the ins and outs of the notoriously laborious and strict art form.




'Loving Heart 3' by Wissam Shawkat. (Supplied)

In 2014, Shawkat broke the mold by creating his own calligraphy style, Al Wissam, which references a number of traditional scripts, including Sunbuli, Jali Diwani, Eastern Kufic and Thuluth.


Moroccan actor Youssef Kerkour receives BAFTA nomination

Youssef Kerkour is nominated for Best Male Comedy Performance for his role as Sami Ibrahim in the comedy series “Home.” (Instagram)
Updated 04 June 2020

Moroccan actor Youssef Kerkour receives BAFTA nomination

DUBAI: Moroccan actor Youssef Kerkour has landed a nomination for the 2020 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), the academy announced on Thursday, after the awards were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The actor, who grew up in Rabat, is nominated for Best Male Comedy Performance for his role as Sami Ibrahim in the comedy series “Home.”

Kerkour, who is also known for roles in “Dracula,” “Redemption,” “Criminal” and “Marcella,” took to Twitter to thank his supporters. 

“Thank you all for your lovely messages this morning. It is a tremendous honor to be nominated in such stellar company,” the 41-year-old actor said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

La famille MAISON @channel4 #home #season2

A post shared by Youssef Kerkour (@youssefkerkour) on

The series, created by British writer and actor Rufus Jones, follows a middle-class London family who find a Syrian asylum seeker named Sami (Kerkour) hiding in their luggage while returning from holiday in France.

Kerkour’s tweet also paid tribute to Jones. 

“I must however say that there is a name missing IMO (in my opinion). That name is Rufus Jones. His writing will give you nominations,” he wrote.