JEDDAH: Emerging Saudi artist Mawada Mutassib, who flips Arabic typefaces, is becoming a prominent figure on the global art scene.
From learning the art of reverse writing from his mother at the age of thirteen to having exhibitions in London and New York City, Muhtasib made the art of Arabic internationally by creating the first Arabic calligraphy typeface. has attracted considerable interest.
Her messages are designed to be read as well as deciphered. Engaging the audience in the task of deciphering the characters is a big part of experiencing the artwork itself.
“It’s about extending human capabilities to make the impossible possible. And this is exactly what I’ve been trying to do,” she told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
Born out of a quest to layer the legacy of the Arabic script with innovative graffiti art techniques, her work, the first of its kind, won an award at Dubai’s Art Bus Competition, where she exhibited her work in a limited showcase. given the opportunity to exhibit.
As graffiti art skyrocketed in popularity in 2013, Mutassib experimented with murals with a futuristic group, hoping to develop a form of art without boundaries.
With a vision to modernize the traditional, she created a decorative left-to-right typeface that mixes Arabic and Latin.
It is about extending human capabilities to create the impossible.
“When I do Arabic calligraphy, people sit and stare at my work for hours trying to figure out what these letters are. At the moment they start analyzing all these letters in a different way, which we Arabic speakers are not used to.”
The artist says Arabic is one of the richest art forms.
The goal is not only to have the viewer read, but to actively reflect the beauty and shape of each stroke and letter in the alphabet.
Muhtasib now passes on her skills through community workshops dedicated to women. Most recently, it was held at Noor Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s largest light-based festival.
“In my workshop, I don’t teach people to write backwards…basically, I’m giving you the keys to how to use the tools to start practicing in the form of Latin calligraphy,” she says. said.
As soon as students understand the structure of a font family, Muhtasib introduces angled brushes, layering techniques, and stroke pressure. From the first session, students go home with new creative forms of expression. “A person’s soul is laid out on a page,” she said.
Writing backwards is nothing new. The artist’s mother inherited this habit after she had to write backwards for privacy at work.
While most calligraphers in the kingdom imitated Western methods, 16-year-old Mutassib was inspired and encouraged by Tunisian artist eL Seed and Saudi-Moroccan artist Shaker Kashgari.
“I took a trick my mom taught me how to write years ago and turned it into a decorative typeface,” she said.
The concept was designed to preserve the rich heritage of the Arabic language. For foreigners, it provides an opportunity to expose the language and learn its history.
“This is reverse Arabic calligraphy that I have taken, improved, adjusted and reshaped. But the viewer will wonder what it actually looked like.
The philosophy behind Typeform has led to interest and several collaborations from international luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Carolina Herrera, Montblanc and Sephora.
Muhtasib inspires creators to push the boundaries of art and culture.
In calligraphy, “Your sky is the limit,” she said.