Calligraphy depicts the union of alphabets and abstraction. One of the finest forms of art requiring precision, practice, and talent. The term calligraphy originated in the ancient Greek civilization and means ‘beautiful handwriting’.

The Arabic script is one of the most culturally rich and visually appealing. It takes years to attain mastery and understand the delicacy and detailing of  Arabic typography. While reading about calligraphy and its various parameters, I came across the work of Mr. Majid Alyousef. He is a self-taught visual artist who has mastered the complex Thuluth script and Arabic calligraphy combining his individual creative novelties for over 25 years.

Calligraphy
Abstract Wall Art/ ©Majid Alyousef

Mr. Majid’s work is free from prejudice. Even someone with little or no knowledge of calligraphy, typography, and abstract depiction can still experience a visual utopia. Working with celebrated brands and producing notable artistic delights comes naturally to Mr.Majid.

It’s a privilege to present his views and reveal the many facets of his magnificent world of Calligraphy. In a tête-à-tête with Soul Style Soufflé, Mr. Majid Alyousef reveals about his life, his work, and what calligraphy means to him.

 

Calligraphy: Inception, Inspiration, Early training

Once your passion surrounds you, you cannot detach it from your existence. One such discovery for Majid became a stepping stone to his talent of creating visually appealing and artistically captivating pieces.
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“My interest developed at the age of 8, I liked drawing and painting but my handwriting wasn’t good. One of my teachers made a note of it and asked me to improve my handwriting. I think that triggered me and  I started exploring calligraphy with the help of my parents and teachers and continued ever since. 
“Calligraphy is made of pure abstract forms and that was my main interest. I always get fascinated by the abstract shapes and their visual impact, even though they don’t have a specific meaning or correlation to actual shapes but they do affect emotional responses.”
Calligraphy
Canvas/ ©Majid Alyousef
“I started with alphabets, that is how one typically start, then started composing letters and words. Written Arabic has a very different and diverse combination of shapes as the letters are connected and each connection is unique. I started practicing on a basic calligraphy booklet that my dad got me and my first few years went steadily. Later, I met a master calligrapher from my city and he guided me. However, it didn’t last long as I was living in Iraq and due to the war in the 80s, we had to relocate a few times to random places. I identify myself as a self-taught artist who used tips and resources from master calligraphers whenever he could.” 

Showcasing the talented side

A skillful artist deserves a platform to let the world know of the marvels bloomed out of his/her creativity. Majid’s reputation as an acclaimed calligrapher and typographer in the region has only flourished by the day. Several exhibitions, shows, workshops, and representation at international platforms have added to Majid’s portfolio of expertise.
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“My first formal piece of work was thisIt took a while to design it and I decided to put it on display as it’s one of my favourite pieces. It’s tough to pick just one of my special work, there are a few that I like, including a series of abstract paintings, called the “Hyperbolic Wall” which was exhibited in 2017 at Dubai FNDesigns Gallery, another one which is very recent is called “Fifty Shapes of Color” which was exhibited this year at Tashkeel gallery in Dubai.”
Calligraphy
Hyperbolic Wall/ ©Majid Alyousef
Calligraphy
Fifty Shapes of Color/ ©Majid Alyousef
Calligraphy
Fifty Shapes of Color/ ©Majid Alyousef
“I’ve practiced Thuluth script and I really appreciate it as it’s the most difficult and challenging style. It is presented in a large size compared to other styles and requires more detailing giving a rich opportunity to explore the abstract aspects of its forms. “

Calligraphy, from a master’s point of view

What’s the thing which makes a usual piece of work extraordinary? How does the work become artistically lifelike? Majid’s vision transforms into a canvas of reality, How?

Calligraphy
A radical new perspective/ ©Majid Alyousef
“I start with single letters, any random letter that comes up, then I build on it inspired by the shapes I see on the paper, when the paper is full of doodles I inspect different parts of it and see where I can recognize special shapes or visually interesting patterns, usually, these pieces will be a potential for an actual artwork later on. If I am working on a specific copy like a poem or a quote then I analyze its own words and letters and deconstruct the basic shapes searching for potential relationships. I study what I have at hand first; is it a purely abstract or an actual copy that dictates the route I take in order to turn it into artwork. Sometimes my work is intuitive and sometimes it is a thoughtful construct but as the work progresses these two initial states may intersect and go hand in hand.”

Setting a benchmark for the contemporaries

The world thrives on competition! Majid’s distinguishing appeal didn’t miss the eyes of well-established brands. Having worked with several top-notch brands and continuing to work with many others, one shouldn’t be surprised to discover Majid’s work on their loved brand.
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“I’ve collaborated with many brands and it’s always been very interesting and exciting. Packaging and campaigns can be exhausting sometimes as it requires wearing a dual hat; a designer and an artist alternately. My greatest achievement so far would be the design I made for the Chronoseven luxury wristwatch which was launched this year –the Year of Zayed in the UAE- celebrating the achievements of the late president of the UAE. I have a deep-rooted interest in product design and especially when it comes to watches, so this was a very exciting project for me. The second project was the wall artwork I created for “The Room of the Emirates” in the United Nations building in Geneva.” 

Final thoughts…

It isn’t easy to convert years of practice to fame and success, Majid’s dedication and undying love for what he does make it a case study for many.
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“My artistic journey has been unpredictable and challenging, it has actually raised many questions and opened my eyes to several aspects of life and culture. I’d advise the beginners to explore and experiment, there is always something new to catch and learn from. Keep practicing and let your work speak its own language.”
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The above answers and images were provided by the artist and solely belong to him.

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