Signed twice in Arabic and English, and dated 'Massoudy 2008' (lower center)
Inscribed in French and Arabic (lower right)
October Gallery, London
Private collection, Dubai
Hassan Massoudy is known for his works on paper that integrates both calligraphy and figural representations. His creations are a subtle mix of oriental and occidental art, tradition, and modernity.
The present lot, like most of his works, highlight individual letters and words in saturated colors, stretched across the paper. The painting usually contains quotes and phrases from poets and writers from all over the world with the text written on a smaller scale framing the central letter or word, which is used to signify the essence of the message.
Massoudy perpetuates tradition but manages to be free from the constraints by the strict rules that governed the art form. Although Arabic calligraphy is traditionally done in black ink, Massoudy introduced other colors in his work to fully express himself. He further pushed its boundaries by merging it with abstract imagery.
The value of beauty in calligraphy lies in the execution and the perfection of style. Over the years, Massoudy purified and simplified his form while also maintaining a body of work that is inspired by a deep humanistic interest. By joining the ancient tradition of Arabic calligraphy with French plasticity, he continues to make something new but remains deeply rooted in the old.
Born in 1944 in Najaf, Iraq, Massoudy grew up in a traditional society. To pursue his art, he moved to Baghdad (1961) and was an apprentice to various calligraphers. He learned the different classical styles of calligraphy while also studying graphic design and fine arts. In 1969, amidst unfolding of political events and ensuing dictatorship, he fled Iraq for France and entered the École des Beaux-Arts where he studied figurative painting. He continued to work on calligraphy by doing headlines for Arabic magazines to pay for his studies until he received his degree in 1975. From 1972, he started collaborating with other creatives in combining music, poetry, and calligraphies to produced live shows such as "Arabesque" (1972-1985); a ballet production (1995) and "Metaphore" (2005). Massoudy’s work was first exhibited in Musee des Beaux-Arts, Pau, France in 1981; since then, his works were exhibited extensively in France and the Middle East. They were also used as the primary promotional image for the British Museum’s 2006 exhibition, Word Into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East. Most recently, the artist held a solo exhibition, "Breath, Gesture and Light" (2017) in London, UK. Massoudy continues to live and work in France.
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