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amongst the top 10 Art books of the year

20 DECEMBER 2017

Signs of Our Times: From Calligraphy to Caligraffiti

The written word has always been a centerpiece of Islamic art, for unlike many sects of the Christian church, Islam follows the Second Commandment, which states, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6 (KJV)

With the injunction on graven images fully in place, Islam developed a visual tradition rooted in literacy, giving its practitioners countless opportunities to read the writing on the walls. In this way, Islam maintains a powerful connection between the hand of the artist and the word itself, developing writing as an art all its own.

In celebration, Merrell Publishers presents Signs of Our Times: From Calligraphy to Caligraffiti, a glorious compendium of six decades of Arabic and Persian word art. Compiled by authors by Rose Issa, Juliet Cestar, and Venetia Porter, Signs of Our Times presents the work of more than 40 modern and contemporary artists who have revisited and revived the practice of Arabic and Persian calligraphy. Divided into three sections, the book examines at Innovation, Exploration, and Circumnavigation, looking at the ways in which Middle Eastern cultures have embraced the art of the word during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

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