Monday, March 27, 2023 | Ramadan 4, 1444 H
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Persian ‘Nastaliq’ wows Muscat’s adoring art lovers


Whether he is in Europe or Oman, the unimposing Iranian artist Ali Pasandedih always turn heads with his art. A master in calligraphy, his work not only is a testament to the beauty of Iranian and Arabic calligraphy but shows the potential of what can be done with words and abstract art on a canvas or a piece of paper.

“I’m very interested in poetry, and poetry is my driving force. I get excited when I hear a beautiful poem and I try to use it in my work,” he shared.

His interest in calligraphy started when he was 12 years old growing up in a small town in Iran with very few facilities or opportunities for a budding artist. Regardless of the challenges, he practised on his own for years without a teacher. By the time he was 21 years old with enough experience and mastery of his craft, he pursued calligraphy art-making as a career.

“The works of the ancient old masters inspired me. My only favourite field is calligraphy and especially the style of Nastaliq,” he said.

“Nastaliq is known as the most famous style of calligraphy in Iran,” he said. Developed in Persia (modern-day Iran) between the 14th and 15th centuries, a lot of calligraphers in Iran including Afghanistan and Pakistan are attracted by the style because out of the many different styles, it is the most fluid to work with that fits very well with Arabic Script.

“I usually use the poems of great poets like Rumi, which are full of meaning and concept. These poems, lead mankind to the right path of life. The reason for choosing calligraphy for me is the same interest in finding the true meaning of life. And I would love to share this experience with others,” Ali shared.

Invited for a solo exhibition by the Art and Soul Gallery at the Waterfront in Qurum, his travel to Oman was his 16th solo exhibition. Running from January 16 to 25, the exhibition came to a close with lots of appreciation among the Oman art enthusiasts.

But unlike other exhibits, Ali also conducted a “by reservation only” workshop on January 22, showing to other artists some of the techniques he used and giving an in-depth look at the beauty of his style of calligraphy.

“The biggest misconception about calligraphy art is that people had this impression that it must only be read. More than the text as well, the overall experience, the beauty of the work of art is preceded by reading,” he said.

Ali brought with him 37 of his works displayed for the adoring public of Oman to inspect and take a closer look.

“Creating a piece can take time and they vary just like other art. Sometimes it takes two or three hours but there are times that it can take a few months,” he said.

“For instance, in this exhibition, there are two works named ‘Asma al-Hassani’ and ‘tumult’ that took the most time, due to the size and number of words used in it.

The choice is difficult, each work has its place in my heart,” he said.

A close inspection of his works on display showed that Ali preferred to use paper and ink as a medium.

“Using glassy paper is ideal for calligraphy and the traditional ink has more quality than other inks,” he said.

“I had many exhibitions over the years, each of them was memorable. But I love foreign exhibitions because they allow me to meet new people and cultures. There’s no telling but I hope to be back in Muscat again soon for another exhibition,” he said.

“For those with interest in calligraphy, my advice is that always look for something you are interested in and try to be the best version of yourself. Once you decided you want to take the path of a calligrapher, start this art with an experienced master. Calligraphy, like many arts, takes time and students have to work hard. They also have to be very patient,” he said.

“Importantly, make sure to find a space where you can have peace. My studio is at home because I have peace there and the space is ready to do the artwork. Having a calm environment is essential. If you want inspiration, look into nature as it provides an inexhaustible resource. Nature acts both as an inspiration and as a powerful and energizing stimulus,” he said.

Ali will be crossing over to the United Arab Emirates next for another exhibition after Oman. For workshops or other updates, he can be reached through his Instagram @alipasandideh.

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