2730 May 2021
2730 May 2021




Arabic calligraphy + Scandinavian minimalism = Hope

Hope is a collection of digital paintings in set dimensions, using the arabic letters A, L, M. The paintings form a part of the artist’s ongoing exploration of Arabic calligraphy using digital tools. The artist Haydar Alward came to Sweden at thirteen, versed in Arabic calligraphy, and aware of belonging to a specific cultural heritage. Haydar’s family contains many artists, and his grandfather was Iraq’s foremost goldsmith.

In Sweden, Haydar had to find new ways of approaching tradition, languages and belonging. Five years after arrival, Haydar studied architecture, and encountered a Scandinavian design ethos.

Having practiced as an architect for ten years, Haydar began exploring paintings during a parental leave with his first born in 2016. Arabic calligraphy was a recurring theme, and the digital design tools he used as an architect seemed to offer new ways to shape and explore the geometries of Arabic letters.

Haydar’s explorations are informed by elements of Nordic design, Arabic calligraphy and of the diaspora experience – of only ever seeing Arabic words advertising fast food and convenience stores. Calligraphy has been a way for Haydar to process and reevaluate a dual heritage – both artistic and familial.

The first sequence of paintings emerged from the letters A, L, M. Depending on their sequence, the letters spell out hope (’amal), or pain (’alam). Among the letters’ associations, the shape of the letters resembles a leaf of the date palm – particularly significant for Iraq, where date palms were crucial in enabling the first major cities, and were they still make up an important element of the cityscapes.