It has been said that Wissam Shawkat is a rule-breaker. A modest individual, this loaded label is not something he’ll freely apply himself, but, that aside, it is impossible to deny that challenge is an ever present theme. We see it even in the way he goes about making new work – employing traditional tools and materials to produce a contemporary aesthetic. There is purpose in the liberating juxtaposition of using handmade paper reed pens and traditional inks to create works that ask us to think again about what Arabic calligraphy is and can be – a central Calligraformic characteristic and something that sits comfortably with an artist like Shawkat, whose less prescriptive route to Arabic calligraphy has always left him somewhere on the periphery of tradition.
Artwork from Contours Exhibition, FN Designs (2017).