Mamdouh Al-Sharif ممدوح الشريف

Mamdouh Al-Sharif, Damascus, Syria, 1885 – 1934.

An Arabic calligraphy artist from Syria, a pioneer in many calligraphic forms, and a revival of the Kufi scripts in the Levant. He practiced and taught calligraphy in his studio in Damascus, and produced significant artworks in Syria and the Arab world.

Today, I’m sharing with you a selected works of Mamdouh Al-Sharif in the Kufi scripts which I believe he exceeded at and added a new Arabian touch to the art of calligraphy whilst the Ottomans were controlling and limiting the Arab people’s life and even their Art back then!

The sources of these works are from my archive and from the internet.

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ومن جرّب المجرب حلت به الندامة، من صدق غنم
Mamdouh has experimented in many styles, I’m starting with this minimal one,  he played with the Square Kufi blocks to create an avant-garde piece. 

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الثقافة
A masthead/logo for a cultural magazine that was published in Damascus. We see the courage usage of Kufi as a typographic line. 

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ISIS Typography

Since the creation of ISIS in 2013, I witnessed as an Arab and Muslim citizen the bloody image of ISIS, and their strong media presence as well, and I observed the usage of type and calligraphy in their designs for social media and other outlets. In this post, I’ll show my findings* for ISIS designs and will comment on them.

isis01

The official logo and flag of ISIS, which is the stamp of prophet Mohammad under the “Shahada” phrase that say: There is no god but Allah. The typographic style here is mimicking the stamp design in the 7th century, very basic, primitive and without any diacritic marks. ISIS used this design to declare their rights of “Khelafa” or caliphate. While in fact, the prophet Mohammad have not used his stamp as a war symbol, he used it as a personal stamp on messages to invite other rulers in the region to know about Islam. (We didn’t see the real stamp or its impression, the current known one is fake and was made by a Turkish artisan in the 19th century, the words’ order in the fake stamp above is wrong, Arabic words should stack over each other from top to down not the apposite)

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Subhi Bilani

Subhi Bilani, a classical calligrapher from Syria, he was a famous artist and teacher in the 30’s and 40’s of the past century, I liked these pieces because he used an organic way to write Ruqaa, I’m pretty sure that he was so fast to write them.. you can see the unclear letter endings, and sometimes the minimal shapes for some other letters.

What I also liked is the strong angular baseline across the words.

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