7/23/2016 0 Comments
Thursday on Elmwood Avenue, I went to Poster Art to check on an invisible frame order and noticed that 1045 Gallery had its sign out. It was nearing 4pm, and I was not sure it was still open. I’d been meaning to stop in to thank gallery owner, Don Zinteck. Back in June, he kept the space open a little longer so I could grab an oil painting of the most enchanting sky blue and the lake’s horizon. The piece was titled “Erie.” I was headed downstate and then further mid-Atlantic to meet up with my friend Florcy Morisset—as she had just recently graduated from the Leadership & Design Program at Johns Hopkins. It was a gift. She owned and operated Vivant Art Collection on Gallery Row in Old City, Philadelphia for over seven years—and helped to curate a space for cultural and intellectual engagement. So, as you can see--I was buying art for a former gallery owner. I was really nervous about the gift.
Don stayed over, wrapped it and tossed in some added info about the Western New York artist and 1045 Gallery. I was off, on my way downstate with a wave and a thank you. At the stairs of the gallery, he heard me creak the foyer door open and started out to greet me—kindly so, as he was entertaining other guests. I walked around, this time lightly opening the jar tops of the ceramic gourds and pears and looking at earrings. Don came over after the guests departed to ask how things were going. I shared with him that my friend adored the painting, especially learning that was also a gift from the region.
We walked up the stairs with Don sharing that the show where the “Erie” painting was featured had come down and that there was a new show hung for Saturday: a show featuring freestyle calligraphy.
One walking up the stairs is immediately arrested by the sleeking and careening Arabic, English and Bangla letters. It almost is as if your eyes drag over the characters like the brush pens that first inked them. The midnight blue diptych circled into an iris; the letters looked like flushing music notes and then “m’s” and “s’s”, “h’s” and “n’s.”
The rose-pink monochrome hung like a Turkish rug, dripping red into pink into the slivery lettering. “Zaman, created this piece after the Syrian crisis broke out—from what he imagined was at the border crossings,” said Don. The pale and grayed characters moved about the sliding pinkish hue, in visual effect, as if a haunting had taken them over.
Zaman situates himself at the forefront of modern Arabic calligraphy and practices a form of the craft akin to eL-Seed's "calligraffi." Zaman calls his method “freestyle calligraphy,” which is particularly recognizable due to its multilingual base—hybrid crossings between different languages. On his website, zamanarts.com, he recounts growing up in Dhaka, Bangladesh, studying classical Arabic texts and then moving to Western New York at 12 years old. All the while, he shares that he was dreaming of what it would mean to “have my own style.”
Zaman, now draws his inspiration from street artists like eL-Seed, who is a French-Tunisian and whose works “incorporate traditional Arabic calligraphy, a style he calls calligraffi.” Zaman lives in Buffalo and has as an aim to “create pieces which inspire people, especially new aspiring artists, “ to create pieces which are meaningful expressions of freedom.
Tonight’s showing is not an East meets West affair. Zaman’s work is more nuanced than that. It actually is an East subverts West by returning to the materiality, the image basis of the singular letter and its multiple meanings and tones. Calligraphy, by its existence, problematizes Western/capitalistic rationality that subscribes only one meaning to a letter or use function. Zaman’s work explores the plurality of what can happen in meditative moments with the word, the letter and the way it directs the hand.
Zahin Zaman is featuring works guided by, a process he terms, freestyle calligraphy at an opening reception today, Saturday, July 23rd, 6pm – 9pm at 1045 Gallery on 1045 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. The show includes works on canvas and ceramic.
Shayna S. Israel
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