1 October 2023–1 November 2023

Breaking Boundaries: A journey through the evolution of language

Collective Exhibition

Firetti Contemporary

An exhibition that celebrates the multifaceted history and evolution of language and transcending traditional boundaries.

Starts 1 October 2023

Ends 1 November 2023

Venue Firetti Contemporary

Warehouse 29


Collective exhibition: Diaa Allam, Sawsan Al Bahar, Nasser Al Salem, Kaikhan Salakhov, Josh Rowell and Yousra Wahba

Curated by Celine Azem

Breaking Boundaries is an immersive exhibition that celebrates the multifaceted history and evolution of language, transcending traditional boundaries and embracing innovative expressions. From its origins in ancient times to the modern era, the exhibition explores the rich evolution of language's past and its dynamic impact on present-day artistic visions.

At the core of this exhibition are the works of Nasser Al Salem, who pushes the boundaries of age-old Islamic art by reinventing it in non-conventional mixed media forms and exploring its conceptual potential. Similarly, the works of Diaa Allam are showcased, celebrating his achievement in revolutionising the traditional art form of Arabic calligraphy. Combining ancient techniques with innovative approaches, Diaa Allam aims to bridge the gap between History and Future. Beyond Islamic art, Arabic calligraphy carries cultural significance that transcends borders. Allam and Al Salem ingeniously blend calligraphy with unconventional mediums, paving the way for cross-cultural appreciation and understanding.

In light of embracing contemporary applications of language, we present the works of British artist Josh Rowell. His art delves into language, reshaping information, and celebrating the handmade in a time increasingly dominated by the virtual world. The visionary series "Painting Language" embodies his fascination with the intricate nature of communication in the 21st century. Each painting in this series serves as a coding system, representing text from various sources and languages. Through colour, sequence, and pattern, the language transforms into detailed and symmetrical works of art.

His works in Breaking Boundaries are themed around Sacred Geometry, an ancient branch of mathematics that ascribes symbolic and sacred meanings to geometric shapes and proportions. This concept is found not only in man-made art and architecture but also in the natural world, where flowers, shells, and trees seem to grow according to the same principles. Sacred geometry has been studied and utilised across many religions, representing the earthly principal laws that govern our world.

The appreciation and application of geometry are also seen in the works of Kaikhan Salakhov, who has devoted over 10,000 hours to exploring the realm of geometry, firmly believing that understanding its principles is essential to comprehend the architecture of the Universe, as affirmed by Pythagoras. Drawing inspiration from Eastern geometry, he acknowledges its rich tradition as the most developed in the discipline. Salakhov is grateful to Islam for bringing forth countless geometric ornaments that hold profound knowledge of the Eternal. By analysing numerous oriental ornaments, he has synthesised this knowledge and put it into practice as an expression of gratitude to his ancestors, as well as to Islam, the Quran, and the Kaaba, which he considers the main teachers of sacred geometry.

His artistic journey takes shape in paintings based on the ninety-nine characteristics of the Almighty. These characteristics are artfully grouped into eleven spheres on each of his nine canvases. The Kaaba holds special significance in his work, serving as the source of all geometric entanglements and symbolising the receptacle of all believers performing the Hajj, meditating on the given ninety-nine characteristics of the Almighty.

At the centre of the exhibition is Sawsan Al Bahar's installation "Leaving is Home '' which resonates with the exploration of language and its impact on personal history and connections. Through her artistic expression, Al Bahar stands at her ruins and looks at remnants left over by her family, capturing a collection of words, memories, and evocations. Reflecting on the generational departures in her family's history, she composes works that reconstruct lives through memories of objects and places, bridging contemporary life with ancient experiences. Similar to how language has evolved over time, Al Bahar's installation reconstructs one unfinished chapter, evoking a past that is still unforgotten by her, inviting visitors to confront the installation at eye level and walk amid the pages to glimpse fractured remembrances. Just as the exhibition celebrates the multifaceted history and evolution of language, Al Bahar's artistic approach with "Leaving is Home" captures the essence of language's ability to transcend time and connect contemporary life with ancient experience, embracing innovative expressions and understanding the impact of communication throughout history.

The works of the Egyptian artist Yousra Wahba bring forth a captivating fusion of calligraphy and science. Her sculpture embodies DNA and celebrates the diverse evolution of human communication through calligraphy and scientific exploration. Wahba's work illuminates the intrinsic connection between communication and our genetic legacy, showcasing how languages and writing systems have evolved alongside our DNA, symbolising the profound interplay between culture and biology. In doing so, Wahba invites viewers to contemplate the deep-rooted relationship between language and humanity's genetic heritage. The evolution of language in her artwork becomes a metaphor for the dynamic nature of human existence, emphasising the continuity of human experience through time.

In essence, Breaking Boundaries brings together the past, present, and future of language, offering visitors a powerful experience that celebrates communication's impact on modern life. Each artist's individual viewpoint and creative journey blend to form a colourful story of language's evolution, leaving a meaningful impact that values both tradition and new ideas. The exhibition encourages us to reflect on how human experiences are connected and how language can bring people together, showing that communication plays a vital role in shaping our shared humanity.