The drawing, Revelation is an image showing the contrast between a secular world view, represented by the Roman alphabet and numerals with that of a traditional spiritual one, represented by an Islamic design and a translation of nineteen verses from the Qur’an. The alphabet and numerals are repeated four times and are organized on a linear grid with an orientation to the four cardinal directions of North, South, East and West.
Geographical positions of latitude and longitude are important in the Islamic faith due to the orientation to Mecca for daily prayers.
The letters and numerals are placed over a traditional Islamic design that originates from designs seen in tiles, carpets and other objects. The design is based on a mathematical system which often combines the geometric with an organic element.
I have used lettering in many art works since the 1960’s and continue to use it for a variety of reasons. In this drawing Included are the first nineteen verses of chapter two, Surah Baqarah, from the Qur’an in a script style to represent the organic element. The sacred verses written over the Islamic design is contrasted with the alphabet and numerals. The main idea is how the spiritual tradition of Islam contends with the flood of secular ideas and values that continue to occur through out time. The word, Qur’an means to recite thus the verses in the original Arabic would be recited and not just read. For English speakers I chose to use an English translation of the original Arabic to allow for meaning when read.
The drawing techniques include using a stylus to incise into the paper surface to create the grid, sgraffito and hand lettering. The sgraffito technique creates a texture to enliven the surface of the paper and also acts as a contrast to the bolder colours which originate from those used in traditional Islamic designs. The image may appear as an ancient tapestry or writing on a weathered wall. In Muslim countries I have seen thousand year old mosques with glazed tiles beside a market of shops with signs and posters using contemporary lettering and images. The drawing is a juxtaposition of the ancient with the contemporary, the sacred with the profane.
As the verses from the Qur’an have an in depth meaning even with the English translation, there is a commentary of the text one can access at web sites that offer translations and commentary of the Quran for chapter two, verses 1 – 19. (Click on the detail to enlarge).