Wissam Shawkat is unique in the way he uses the Arabic letters in his calligraphy. He gained international prominence as a calligrapher during his work in Dubai, U.A.E. His contribution, both as calligrapher, and as a jury member to many calligraphic exhibitions, is notable.
In recent years, a number of calligraphers have been undertaking an introspective enquiry into the concepts of this fine art. Wissam Shawkat, who is a master of the classical Arabic scripts, began to question the direction and purpose of calligraphy in the modern world. Observing his recent works shows his ability to re-examine, and stimulate contemporary calligraphy with new and innovative forms that retain all the classical qualities of the the Arabic scripts.
It is particularly notable that Mr. Shawkat is able to make his modernist compositions in such a way that the classic calligraphic construction is both hidden and dominant. Thus he has invented something totally new, yet not totally unfamiliar. His control of the calligraphic media is breath taking and exceptional.
In his recent works we can clearly detect classical scripts such as Thulth, Kufic and Diwani, yet in his new forms and compositions he pushes ahead with his quest for achieving a stimulating transformation of the calligraphy of the Arabic letters. For this and other qualities such as the use of color, the horizontal and vertical expansions of calligraphic forms, circular and other compositions, Wissam Shawkat is considered an important avant-garde calligrapher in the contemporary Middle East.
In his exhibition, “Letters of Love”, he illustrates that today, the choices of shapes, forms and compositions are almost limitless. When this expertise in classical calligraphy is harnessed together with these new forms and shapes, Wissam Shawkat believes that they can become a powerful force for calligraphy and an innovative expression of the time.
Dr. Nabil Fathi Safwat
Historian of Arabic calligraphy
Wissam Shawkat is an enormously gifted and versatile artist who excels as much in contemporary graphic design as in classical Arabic calligraphy. He is an important shaper of the Gulf-centered renaissance in both graphic arts and calligraphy, and his work bears watching very closely.
Dr. Irvin Cemil Schick
Historian of Islamic calligraphy
Among the new generation of calligraphers, the one I admire the most outside of those practicing in Istanbul is Wissam Shawkat. He is well known among his colleagues for his gentle disposition and unpresuming demeanor. In addition to his calligraphic panels in the classical mode, his large Jali Thulth exercises (Tamrin)[which indicate the proportions of each letter by the dot system] adorning new buildings fill me with admiration every time I visit Dubai. Perhaps it is his engineering background that inspires these graphic designs, which blend so well with modern constructions. The feel of his letters would delight the souls of Sami Efendi (1838-1912) and El-Hajj Nazif Bey (1846-1913), two monumental (Jali) names of Islamic calligraphy.
My most sincere wish is for Wissam Shawkat to continue to add grace to these immortal letters for many years to come.
Prof. M. Uğur DERMAN
Historian of Islamic calligraphy
I came to know Wissam Shawkat at calligraphy exhibitions in Dubai and was instantly struck by the quality of his compositions, as well as the clean lines of his execution. His work is both muscular and sensitive. Hasan Celebi has pointed out many fine qualities in his work, as well as his excellent personal qualities, which we have all come to admire and rely upon.
Mr. Shawkat is also a master of other arts, including advertising, production, and book design, and is an accomplished airbrush artist. In short, I am very pleased to consider Mr. Shawkat one of the outstanding calligraphers of our time and also to think of him as a friend.
Wissam Shawkat combines the best of both worlds: a deep understanding of the traditions of Arabic calligraphy and an innovative spirit that uses those traditions in new and refreshing ways. Mr. Shawkat is clearly at home both with reed pen and digital media, which allows him to integrate his skills as a calligrapher with his understanding of modern design requirements. This combination of skills is hard to find in Europe and the States, and gives his work a force and clarity that is rarely seen outside Japan.
Calligrapher, researcher, art historian
Wissam Shawkat’s calligraphy has an enviable strength and beauty of line. His ability to create perfect freehand parallels and echoes is, to me, astounding. Many of the repeated lines are so perfect I look for signs of digital manipulation, but instead find the minute differences in ink and line that tell the truth of the hand-made work. His contemporary layered pieces are like glorious clouds of thought, and those with structure are balanced to perfection. Now if only I could read Arabic, my experience would be complete.
Graphic Artist & Designer