Qatar Now: Manar Al-Muftah | Talisman

The Gallery | Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar

Manar Al Muftah's, VCUQ graduate, first solo exhibition combining between Arabic calligraphy and printmaking.

manar e-invite.jpg - invitation by VCUQ Galley


Arabic is deeply rooted in my repository of memories. I often recall learning the Arabic alphabet when I was a child. It was more than a mere collection of letters. The curviness and the smoothness of the many letters together wove a story in my child’s mind: Raa was a girls’ braid, and lam was my father’s fishing hook.

We, as native Arabic speakers, rarely pay attention to our Arabic alphabet. Because we have spoken and written in Arabic all our lives, we never examine the forms and shapes of those letters.

Today, my own perception of letters has changed tremendously. I don’t see letters as figures anymore. Three years ago, I never thought about the letter nuun. Today, nuun is more than a letter. It is a crescent, a bowl of sadness, a bag of flour, and my lucky talisman!
Each letter has its own story; each articulates a rhythmic music, and each has an identity: some have one dot, while others have two, and one single letter has three dots: Thaa. And each of the three dots is different from the other!

We are used to looking at joined letters, which form words. But we hardly ever see separate letters that have been set individually. When we see faa by itself, it helps our eyes to move freely from the dot to the body forming an image in the mind. One will see a boat. While the other will see a lucky charm! Each letter is unique and has a visual impact on us.

Each has a magical power!

Calligraphy is considered one of the richest resources of many artists from the Arab world. Today, many contemporary artworks differ from one artist to another, but no Arab artist can completely deny the influence of calligraphy. The Arabic alphabet provides me with a variety of potentials to express the artistic identity of Arabs. My work seeks not to present the technicality, but to honor the world of the alphabet. I try to give each letter the value it deserves, and expose it to the contemporary world. My artwork is very intimate. Each piece is part of me. Each is a precious memory of my childhood, and each is a lucky charm.