Nominated in 2015 by the International Award for Public Art as one of the top 30 public artists in the world, Karim Jabbari is celebrated for his expressive ‘light calligraphy’ images and artwork, often featuring ancient Kufi and Maghrebi script.
Karim grew up in the poorest city in Tunisia, and was sent to school far from home and family. For a solitary youngster, writing–particularly calligraphy–was a means to displace his loneliness and isolation.
Of his art, Karim says ‘people are usually impressed by the beauty of the letters and their shapes, and their curves.
I think that the message these letters are transmitting is deeper. The message itself is our language, which is a part of us and we need to know more about it. We need to go back to the source, to our language. All of our languages come from the same source.’
Karim’s love for Arabic language intensified as he began to delve deeper into its beautiful letters and syllables and through this, he has found a way to stay connected not only to his ancient heritage but also his cherished homeland as he moves throughout the world.
Calligraphy has become a vehicle for Karim to reach out to his elders, to youngsters, to those feeling disenfranchised, to those eager to learn more.
‘I felt at a young age that calligraphy gave sense to my life. My father had an amazing book collection, I used to sit for hours just staring at the books and waiting for them to tell me a story. Then I started to open them, and I started to write day after day, to practise calligraphy’