Calligraphic Artefacts

Sokolniki Park, Moscow saw the opening of the 2nd International Exhibition of Calligraphy at the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy, one of the city’s youngest and most ambitious sites. The halls are pervaded with the atmosphere of mystery and serenity. Linen pillars sparkle with light bluish gleams. Alcoves are dance floors for the flames of aroma candles. A fountain smoothly murmurs among ornamental plants. The only thing that disturbs this harmony are the beastly floor boards creaking like an old ship’s deck. And if you give the surroundings a closer look, you’ll find it much akin to a ship with a hold stowed with calligraphic chefs d’oeuvre from Russia, India, China, and a dozen other countries.

The opening day saw Arabian guests strolling to and fro along the aisles with dignity, Indian saris flashed here and there. Denis Shapovalov was playing a slow adagio with his vibrating cello. Representatives of the world religions were reading aloud their leaders“ addresses full of expressions of gratitude to the organizers for special attention to the sacred art of calligraphy.

The exhibition disrupts the usual stereotype according to which calligraphy is nothing but concise black ink patterns on snow white paper. Well, this might hold true only for China and Japan. Some works resemble Suprematism, the only difference being the black squares and scarlet crescents are covered with most delicate inscriptions. Other works of art could be attributed to Impressionism.

Arabic calligraphy delights with its contrasts: the delicate ligature snaking against the black background resembling the uneven granite surface. The Quran surahs are twisting in labyrinths; the bright flowers are blooming, snow-white birds flying and airships with elegant sails floating in the sky nearby. And here is the Jewish calligraphy: the scripts resembling the tongues of fire are filled with the apocalyptic spirit.

The hall representing Mongolian and Tibetan calligraphy contains a rare exhibit. A mantra carved into yellow sandstone and covered with metal leaf literally means, “Embodiment of the compassion of all Buddhas, act through me”. By its side hangs a painting from Mongolia — The Wind of the Steppe. In front of the painting there is the strict order of calligraphy from the Celestial Empire and powerful strokes of the Country of the Rising Sun.

Indian calligraphy is perhaps the most striking. The Sanskrit texts are as if wrapped in a haze. Unlike Middle East calligraphy, Indian writing is totally secular. Its secular character is reflected in the titles: Window, Letter Circle, Symphony. This trend is extremely close to Impressionism.

The first floor of the museum contains the works of art in Cyrillic and Roman. Whereas Roman calligraphy is much more expressive, for instance the Madness, Russian calligraphy represents classical poetry.

The exhibition demonstrates truly unique artifacts. A World Famous Mezuzah, a sacred parchment scroll written by Avraham Borshevsky an expert in sacral calligraphy. It is the only calligraphy artwork listed into the Guinness World Records. Until now the sacral scroll from Jerusalem hasn’t been exhibited in Russia.

The Golden Quran is the only and exact copy of the Quran of Uthman, the most ancient Islamic manuscript dated to the 8th century made of Au 999 gold at the Moscow Mint of the Ministry of Finance of Russia in 2006. The Golden Quran consists of 162 plates according to the number of pages of the original. It took the Moscow Mint a year and a half to make the copy.

The exhibition will run from October 15th to November 14th, featuring master classes from world renowned artist calligraphers, such as: Nja Mahdaoui, famous for painting the planes of the national airlines of Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman; Barbara Calzolari, calligrapher of Pope Benedict XVI; and Pyotr Chobitko, President of the National Union of Calligraphers.

The visitors of the master classes would be able to see with their own eyes that the simplicity of calligraphic ornamentation is deceptive. An inscription on a sumo wrestler statuette proclaims the same truth, “Everyone sees perfection. No one knows how long the way to it was.”

Source: Culture newspaper portal