With the holy month of Ramazan in full swing, it only seemed fitting that a calligraphy exhibition was put together to reawaken Islamic art and introduce it to those who are unaware of one of the oldest forms of art in the world.

A group of 10 artists, in collaboration with the Egyptian National Day, gathered under the Serena Hotel’s Satrang Gallery to showcase a wide range of calligraphic artwork titled “Noon Wao Qalam” that had many standing in awe at some perfectly lined, bold brush strokes.

The Satrang Gallery was filled to the brim on Tuesday with art lovers and foreigners dressed mostly in eastern formal attire. With these pieces, artists Ahmed Khan, Rasheed Butt, Saeed Akhtar, Amin Gulgee, Khursheed Gohar Qalam, Arif Khan, Mussarat Arif, Bin Qulandar, Shahzad Zar and Ali Asad Naqvi all work along the theme of calligraphy but introduce their individual styles. Rasheed uses black and gold which is simple yet striking with a large Allah in one frame and Ya Wadood on another. Amin’s installation in copper is perhaps one of the most powerful pieces amongst others as. “[Copper] is a metal I am drawn towards for its longevity and sensuous quality,” he says, referring to the “Char Bagh” which — despite the hard metallic medium and architectural elements — is delicate and curved, making it stand out.

Arif Khan’s paintings exude the feel of a symphony in motion as his canvas is filled with generous red or green and etched in the words onto the paint. On the other hand, Mussarat uses the Kufic form of calligraphy. “I produce calligraphic art governed by the principles of balance and proportion, rhythm and unity by incorporating various patterns and geometric designs interwoven with words of the Holy Quran,” she said, as her works have Surah-e-Fateha and the Ayat-ul-Kursi on canvas with earthy tones in the background.

Straying away from the conventional was Bin Qulander, whose two pieces seem refreshingly abstract. They are pieced together perfectly and create a harmony amongst the verses of Durood-e-Pak and Surah-e-Ikhlas, choosing to emphasise the art behind the calligraphy instead of focusing on the calligraphy alone. With a back ground of red and blue, Bin uses silver leaf with mixed media.

While many present at the gallery were foreigners, the art itself didn’t seem to need much translation. “That’s the beauty of art, I may not be able to read or understand what’s up on that frame, but I can feel the immense and painstaking labour behind every single piece,” said Sarah, a foreign guest at the event.

The curator of the gallery Asma Rashid pointed out the distinct features in each piece and referred to the collective exhibition as each artists’ “signature work”. The exhibition continues till August 31.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2012.

By Sehrish Ali – Published: August 1, 2012