Saturday, 7 April 2012

Tibetan calligraphy in the Arab Emirates

 A short account of Tashi's visit to the Art & Cultural Emirates Sharjah.

A red carpet warm welcome
to the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial 2012

Every two years the government of Sharjah holds a prestigious event called the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial. For the second term running Tashi Mannox has been invited to exhibit his contemporary Tibetan calligraphy along-side not only Islamic calligraphy works from across Arab world but from other international destinations.
This year Tashi attended the opening celebrations where he met with eminent Sheikhs and other participants from Japan, Morocco, Norway and the USA.  

More than a 100 works by 160 artists is showcased during the month of April 2012 at the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial that is located at the Calligraphy Square Museum and the Sharjah Art Gallery.

Calligraphy Square

The opening ceremony was held in the named 'Calligraphy Square' (as above) in the old quarter of Sharjah away from the metropolis of Dubai in both distance and in contrast.

The Sheikh of Sharjah and his entourage arriving to meet the artists.

H.H. Sheikh Dr.Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi presided over the opening, taking time to see each exhibit and meet with many of the participants.
Known in short as the Sheikh of Sharjah, the Sultan who is the crowned prince and deputy ruler of Sharjah; is a great believer and promoter of the arts and cultural values of his own traditions as well as encouraging a multi cultural dialogue. Indeed if it was not for his openness and generous attention to such values, there would not be such an opportunity of such a dynamic and vibrant show of works at the Biennial as well as other events across Sharjah.
It is little wonder of the enormous love and respect entrusted by his people, that for the past decade or so the Sheikh of Sharjah has established Sharjah as the Emirates of culture as well as the building of the vast University City that boasts excellent facilities equaled if not bettered than universities of the Western World. 

Tashi meets the Sultan of Sharjah to introduce his artworks.

Exhibited alongside other Islamic masterpieces in the exhibition hall of traditional calligraphy are Tibetan calligraphy works by Tashi Mannox. 

To the right of a contemporary Islamic calligraphy is Tashi's piece called
"the Great Perfection of Aa"

Another of Tashi's works called "The Ultimate and Relative Truths"

With over a thousand exhibits it would be impossible to show all the artworks on this short blog post, but there were many breath-taking and outstanding Islamic calligraphy pieces, below are just a few examples.

"Prayer" Islamic Calligraphy by Mustafa Falouth, Morocco.

"If words could kill" by Ayad Alkadhi, Iraq.


Meeting with other international artist participants, from left to right: Japanese Sugi Yayoi and  Takenzawa Gyokurei, Julia Vance from Norway, Tashi Mannox from the UK and Imada Tokudou from Japan. 
The Japanese calligraphers went on to lead a workshop in painting giant calligraphy with huge brushes, an account of this activity can be seen here.

Sugi Yayoi stands next to one of her masterpieces, a poem that resembles a garden with the sun above.

Imada Tokudou with Tashi, flanking his Japanese calligraphy that reads "inner strength". 

The young and talented American Ebon Heath explains his 'mobile' calligraphy to a Noble Sheikh at the opening of his solo exhibition. More of Ebon's poetic works can be seen here.

Another solo exhibition is from Lalla Essaydi of Morocco, who combines Islamic calligraphy with the female form producing evocative photographic pieces. More of her works can be viewed here.  

Award winning Farah Behbehani from Kuwait explains her calligraphy "Tree of Life" to the Sheikh of Sharjah.

"The whole experience visiting Sharjah was a real eye opener to just how multi cultural and willing the Emirates are. In our present times of world politics and extremists, it is refreshing and heart warming to know that there is an organization such as the Sharjah Art and cultural department who contributes to bridging gaps between cultures and faiths, bringing together artists from around the world under the same desert sky.

While i was there, i had a distinct feeling of the equanimity of all people, regardless of their belief, in a way that made the world seem very small, but positively as brothers and sisters in one united family. 

I was made to feel very welcome,  the warmth and openness of the people of Sharjah in general was comforting. The organizers and helpers of the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial where most friendly and helpful.

I wish to especially thank H.H. The Sheikh of Sharjah, and my coordinator Moza Ali Al Shamsi for all her work in helping make my participation possible, plus a big thank you to the team of helpers such as below with a "beard of perfection" i ever did see! and to Radhwan who chauffeured me around to all the different events with a big smile"

-Tashi Mannox  

May peace prevail on Earth!

Giant Calligraphy Exchange

Uniting different cultures and art at the invitation of the government of Sharjah, UAE. 

Under 'The Eye of the Emirates' at Al Oasha, as part of the many Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial events, a workshop took place on the 3rd April 2012 called "Big Calligraphy Brush" that was lead by renowned Japanese calligraphy artists including master Sugi Yayoi as she is pictured in a red blouse below.

Among other artist, Tashi Mannox was invited to create a giant calligraphy piece; here choosing a suitable brush and bucket of Japanese Sumi ink with the help of Sugi Yayoi.

Only after taking a moment to blow a wondering insect from the enormous paper, Tashi deliberated the first mark with a certain gusto.

The first letter of the calligraphy is the Tibetan letter cha ཆ་ formed in one continuous brisk stroke. Sugi Yayoi applauds !

Below which a 'ü' vowel sign is added to complete the word chü ཆུ་ meaning 'water'.

The end of the vowel sign is artfully lengthened as if the flow of water or waves, ending with a fine wisp. 

And the final gesture is his signature, and with the absence of his personal seals the calligraphy was finished with three fingered print in red cinnabar seal ink. symbolizing three jewels.

Another guest to create a giant Islamic calligraphy was a noble Sheikh and participant of the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial 2012, who managed with great care not to get a single drop of black ink on his pristine robes. 

A trend of marking the finished calligraphy with a red finger-print seems to have been set by Tashi, as this noble Arab takes great delight in his finished work.