“Listen to the reed and the tale it tells,
how it sings of separation:
Ever since they cut me from the reed bed,
my wail has caused men and women to weep”
– Song of the Reed –
by Mawlana Jaluldeen Balkhi Rumi*
The Reed Pen’s Tale is the first New Zealand solo exhibition for Afghanistan born calligraphy artist, Sayed Ali Karam Jawhary [Ali]. The exhibition will feature 12 distinctive Persian calligraphic works. Persian Calligraphy is a unique art form established around the 7th century. Ancient Persian script is believed to have originated around 500-600 BC*. The styles of calligraphy used by Ali is Nastaʿlīq and Shikasta Nastaʿlīq.
Ali is a Master calligrapher, having practised calligraphy for 37 years. For him art is a universal language that transcends culture and travail, functioning as a sacred refuge. Ali’s works draw inspiration from the words and philosophy of Persian poets of old, such as Mawlana Jaluldeen Balkhi Rumi, Hafiz, Saadi and Omar Khayyam, as well as world renowned classical musicians Mohammad-Reza Shahjarian and Ustad Sarahang.
“Calligraphy and poetry are very closely related. I like poetry so calligraphy is the best way to learn how to express how I feel. I try to tell my story and match it to a poem that is similar to my story” The calligraphic forms and Persian script Ali uses derive from symbols centuries old, and are made using hand carved bamboo calligraphy pens. While not typically exhibited in New Zealand, Ali’s use of Persian Calligraphy demonstrates the intrinsic diversity in art, and invites viewers to connect with an ancient art form – an often visceral connection.
Also on display in The Reed Pen’s Tale will be a collection of Ali’s bamboo calligraphy pens. Ali has received fantastic support to put together this exhibition from; Art for Change, New Zealand Red Cross, Depot Artspace and Auckland Refugee Family Trust.
The Reed Pen’s Tale opening event will be on Friday 8 December, from 6pm – 8pm in the Vernacular Lounge, Depot Artspace, 28 Clarence St, Devonport.
The exhibition will be available to view from 2 December – 20 December 2017
Ali was forced to leave his home country of Afghanistan when he was 15 and take refuge in neighbouring Iran where he continued to live for many years. While living in Iran he learned about the best calligraphers, read books and visited exhibitions, all of which challenged him to develop his artistic practice.
For many years in Iran, Ali worked as a professional sign writer and calligrapher. He also became involved with a group of artists who exhibited their works in a gallery in Qum city. This was the first time he exhibited his work publicly. He later had the opportunity to teach calligraphy to students at a private school.
In 2013, Ali was resettled in New Zealand, along with his son. His brother had previously been granted resettlement in New Zealand and later applied for a family reunification visa for Ali and his family*. Ali’s ultimate goal is to introduce New Zealander’s to Persian Calligraphy and this exhibition resembles an important rite of passage in aligning with his new life in New Zealand.