In conversation with Mouneer Al Shaarani

"These songs are at my despair and my hope, They are on my ambition, misery and deprivation" by Mouneer Al Shaarani. (Courtesy: Art Space and Mouneer Al Shaarani)
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Master calligrapher Mouneer Al Shaarani will be opening a solo show of his work tomorrow in Art Space Gallery in Dubai International Financial Centre. Al Shaarani, who graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus in 1977, lives and works in Syria. Here we catch up with him for a quick interview.

Anna Seaman: How long did it take you to master the art of calligraphy?

Mouneer Al Shaarani: I started since I was 10 years old (so that would be over 52 years experience), and started working as a calligrapher from the age of 15. After 10 years of working in this field, I started learning more and more and perfected the technique.

AS: Under what theme are the works presented for this exhibition?

MS: This exhibition portrays human feelings. I believe humanity pushes us to question things which, in turn, pushes us to find the answers.

AS: Do you write Quranic script or poetry?

MS: Both, as well as quotes, sentences and Sufist philosophy. I get inspiration from all things. I endeavoured to produce a calligraphic work that is not dependent on borrowing from other arts, and that doesn’t derive its aesthetics from anything else. In my work, there is only a pairing between general aesthetic of the arts and the essential aesthetic characteristics of Arabic calligraphy. I chose some extremely ancient calligraphy styles such as Kairouan Kufi, Square Kufi, and Almashriki Kufi, I studied the characteristics of each style, developed their letters, completed their shortcomings, amended their ratios and reformulated them structurally and synthetically with modernistic logic.

AS: How difficult is it to practice in Syria during these times?

MS: The situation is very bad, but its my country, I feel at this time, I must not leave it. Before, I was living outside, but now I feel I must stay, live and work in order to inspire.

AS: Do you feel there is still an appreciation and a need for art whilst people are dealing with the difficulties of war?

MS: Of course, we always need the art, and I do art for the people. Because they feel it.

* Mouneer Al Shaarani's show will run from April 20 – May 16. For more info visit: