By Catherine Dailey.
His Excellency, Dr. Alireza Kazemi Abadi, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ambassador to the Netherlands, opened “Drawing Dreams”, an exhibition of Persian Calligraphy at the “Iran House ” on Wednesday, 17 July.
Ambassador Abadi warmly welcomed members of the diplomatic community, specially invited guests and other “friends of Iran,” who turned out in large numbers for the mid-summer event to admire numerous artworks by Azar Safari, Mahnaz Abedini and S. Kamal Mirkhalaf on display.
During his brief introduction, he noted, that all of the calligraphic artworks being exhibited were created “locally” by Iranians and Dutch-Iranian artists residing in the Netherlands. He also mentioned that the exhibition is open through Monday, July 22nd and personally extended an invitation to his guests to invite family members and friends to pass by the “Iran House” to view the exhibition during the coming days.
Following H.E. Dr. Abadi’s welcome, Mr. M. K. Eshragh addressed the ambassador’s guests with a short history on the “Art of Calligraphy in Persia,” one of the nation’s oldest and most culturally significant forms of artistic expression. Calligraphy, in addition to being an artistic meaning put to paper, has been applied as a decorative element to architecture (mosques and shrines), metalwork, ceramics and, more recently, even textiles–both apparel and the decorative arts.
Eshragh specifically referenced the six major types of script, including the “Naskh”, in the Aglam-i-Setteh (The Six Styles of Writing) which was first codified by Ibn-Mogleh Beidhavi Shirazi. He also briefly referred to the twelve major design principles employed by calligraphers to interpret the styles of calligraphic script. Centuries later, Mr. Eshragh explained, as Persian calligraphy continued to develop as an art form, Mir Ali Heravi Trabrizi combined Naskh and Tali, two of the major scripts, and creating the elegant cursive Nas’taligh style which is still preferred—even today.
Azar Safari followed Eshragh’s address with a presentation titled, “Persian Calligraphy, From Being a Mean to a Meaning.” She focused on the beauty of the form of the written word, in Persian Calligraphy, emphasizing that form often supercedes meaning as a source of inspiration for artistic expression. She further elaborated on the three mains methods employed by calligraphers in creating a work and introduced her audience to the calligraphic concepts of Deformation, Exaggeration and Stylization.
Calligrapher S. Kamal Mirkhalaf, who also serves as Counsellor to the Iran’s mission in the Netherlands, has been particularly inspired by his time in the the international city of justice and peace. His work “Dream Lands,” a poetic conception of the beauty of two civilizations (Iran and the Netherlands) employs both the “Nas’taliq” and “Shekasteh Nas’taliq” styles, which he juxtaposed with a colorful painting evocative of a Dutch landscape in spring. “Dream Lands” received considerable attention and admiration from Ambassador Abadi’s guests as the theme was particularly fitting for the occasion.
Mirkhalaf’s poem, equally inspired by both countries, is, in part, a tribute to the iconic “Peace Palace” and all that it represents to humankind. As such, “Dream Lands” incorporated a fascinating representation of the “Peace Palace” in an calligraphic, artistic and poetic form.
The ambassador’s program concluded with a short performance of traditional Iranian music, refreshments and hors d’oeuvres. It was a beautiful summer evening and many guests lingered, exchanging pleasantries before the beautiful artworks on display.
Photography by Catherine van Der Loos.