Arabic calligrapher Ghaleb Hawila is not one to shy away from pushing the boundaries of his art. We explore his latest exhibition at Beirut’s SV Gallery, which is supported by the Foundation of the National Library.
Tell us more about the idea of “feelings” and how this translates into your current exhibition, “Im/permeable Feeling(s).”
I’ve been struggling with how much people try to read and decipher my work. I know I’m an Arabic calligraphy artist, but I’m not a classical one; I know where I stand and I want people to feel my work rather than reading it. For me it’s a deeper understanding of where calligraphy is and should stand in our lives.
You’ve chosen to showcase Arabic calligraphy using a variety of mediums, notably the silk screen. How important is it to experiment with new materials?
I guess — by looking at my career over the past few years — you can see how experimental and unconventional my work is. And to achieve this, I’m always fusing calligraphy with another art form to reach a new understanding and push my work further. For me, it’s like having numerous outfits; each new outfit reflects one’s personality in a different way.
Your work combines the written word with visual art. What is the most challenging thing about fusing these disciplines?
Balance is the hardest. Choosing the right verse for the right artwork might take a while but balancing both requires a lot of effort. The second difficulty is the limitation; you are limited to letters to produce work that is different and develops over time. On the other hand — with hard work and discipline — limitation serves creativity.
The exhibition is supported by the Foundation for the National Library. How did this collaboration come about?
The story began when Nadine Bikdash, a jury member of the Génération Orient competition, was introduced to my work. She then shared it with Randa Daouk, the president of the Foundation for the National Library, who appreciated my creativity and wanted to support me as a young artist.
What are you working on next?
I’m preparing some murals in Beirut, and working on some collaborations that will form part of Beirut Art Fair. Then, I’m planning a solo exhibition of my work “nuqta” and a huge installation at the French Institute; the opening will be on the 15 November 2019. That’s all I know so far, but I’m sure they’ll be many surprises along the way!
“Im/permeable Feeling(s)” runs until 17 August 2019 at SV Gallery in Saifi, Beirut. The exhibition is open daily from 11 am to 7 pm.