Contemporary calligraphy

After graduating in 1983 in Fine Arts with first position and a gold medal award, Shakil Ismail chose calligraphy as a mode of expression and did a lot of work in this genre. Then after some time in the 90s, he started doing calligraphic work on glass castings and then moved towards jewelry designing and sculptures. 

His current solo show at Artscene Gallery, Karachi includes calligraphy on metal, glass, wall hanging, sculpture and jewelry.

His latest collection offers metal jewelry pieces and wall hangings in brass, copper, and bronze studded with contrasting coloured semi-precious stones and crystals. The pieces resemble amulets having square and irregular shapes enameled with gold.

Inspired by Islamic architecture, he experimented to decorate the wall hangings and jewelry with traditional calligraphic motifs. The calligraphy on glass castings embedded with precious stones in beautiful colours marked by minimal composition have a unique sculptural style. His recent works show his rich imagination, artistic perception and variety of designs.

He has given religious overtones to modern designs in the form of calligraphy. He has moulded metal into various shapes and adapted forms familiar to us in daily life like leaves, flowers, geometrical patterns, and in wall hangings, pendants, bracelets and earrings. He also used ‘tawez’ style in pendants to give it more spiritual look.

Jewelry is not only worn by women on functions but almost all women wear jewelry depending on nature of their work and life-style from remote areas to cities. The styles of the jewelry displayed at the exhibition were for both casual and formal wear.

Some of these styles are blended with western styles to produce elegant combinations of gold and silver plated, copper and bronze with semi-precious stones. Stones and gems of various colours are embedded in yellow gold or white silver colour metal jewelry was produced to match clothes of different colours and styles.

This has given wide choice to women for selecting colour matching their dress and giving rise to new trends. His work gives a soothing look and calmer appearance to wear with delicate designs in silver and gold plated metals.

Some of the jewelry pieces give antique looks with coloured glass pieces used to enhance the effect. His aesthetic jewelry designs are attractive and show a degree of passion. Every single piece reveals his versatility and imagination. The stunning range of piece at the show proves the creation of marvelous work from worthless saw materials. His inspiration turns ordinary objects in to trendy fashionable jewelry and decorating items. His vibrant jewelry embellish with calligraphy spread colourful light through glass use in different designs giving sparkling appealing look.

Another part of the exhibition was engraved sculptures with Qura’nic verses. Bronze has been a major medium in sculptures and treated with electroforming and plating in so many ways the shades of copper, silver and gold appears presenting different moods of the artist. Twisted and carved metal engraved with calligraphy shows the combination of movement and stillness in the same art work.

During the last 27 years Shakil Ismail has won several prizes including first prize in Sindh Artists Exhibition (1986), first prize in National Exhibition, Islamabad (1988), first prize in Arts Council’s group show (1988), first prize, Sadaquain Award (1991-92), second prize at National Exhibition, Islamabad (1993), second prize at National Museum, Karachi (1995).

He sees a wide scope in glass casting for the younger generation and wants them to come forward in learning and doing work in this mode of art.

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