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Sayed Ali Karam Jawhary: To Be One In Heart

November 19, 2020 @ 10:00 am - December 16, 2020 @ 3:30 pm

The Reed Pen’s Tale Continues: To Be One In Heart

Sayed Ali Karam Jawhary

Opening Saturday 21th November 11am – 3pm


“Listen to the reed and the tale it tells,
how it sings of separation:
Ever since they cut me from the reed bed,
my wail has caused men and women to weep”

Song of the Reed, by Mawlana Jaluldeen Rumi


The Reed Pen’s Tale Continues: To be one in heart is Afghanistan-born calligraphy artist Sayed Ali Karam Jawhary’s second solo exhibition in New Zealand, and features eight distinctive Persian calligraphic works.


For Ali, who came to Aotearoa as a refugee in 2013, art is a universal language, a sacred refuge that transcends culture and travail. He draws inspiration from Persian poetry and music, and his unique works combine his personal experience with philosophy. His refugee background has made him passionate about sharing the culture and philosophies of the ancient Persian poets, with their strong messages of compassion, kindness and love, with the peoples of his new home, Aotearoa.


Ali’s art resembles something from another era. For him, it is a conscious effort to choose beauty over suffering, while finding solace in the work of ancient and contemporary Persian writers.


Persian calligraphy is an art form established around the 7th century, and ancient Persian script originated around 500-600 BC. Ali uses Nastaʿlīq and Shikasta Nastaʿlīq styles of calligraphy and is a master calligrapher, having practised the art for 37 years.


His works are inspired by the words and philosophy of Persian poets such as Mawlana Jaluldeen Rumi, Ferdowsi, Hafiz, Saadi and Omar Khayyam, as well as classical musicians Mohammad-Reza Shahjarian and Ustad Sarahang.


“Calligraphy and poetry are very closely related,” he says. “I like poetry, so calligraphy is the best way to learn how to express how I feel. I try to tell my story and match it to a poem that is similar to my story.”


Ali believes that kindness, compassion and empathy can overcome difference, and bring people together regardless of race, religion or politics. Today we need more stories of our common humanity (especially since the Christchurch mosque attacks), and less of those that exaggerate our perceived differences and threaten to tear us apart. His desire is for his art to “make happy hearts” with which to heal our wounded world.


Ali uses hand-carved bamboo calligraphy pens to depict Persian script and symbols. His use of Persian calligraphy demonstrates the intrinsic diversity in art, and invites viewers to connect with an ancient art form – an often visceral connection.


When he was only 15, Ali was forced to flee his homeland of Afghanistan and take refuge in neighbouring Iran, where he became a professional sign writer and calligrapher. He also learned about the best calligraphers, which challenged him to develop his artistic practice. He became involved with a group of artists who exhibited their works in a gallery in Qum city, and also taught calligraphy to students at a private school.


Ali and his son came to live in New Zealand seven years ago under the family reunification programme for refugees. Their family was the first helped by the Auckland Refugee Family Trust, which raises money to bring the families of refugees to New Zealand. The trust has since helped to reunite more than 60 families.


Two years ago, Ali fulfilled his dream to introduce New Zealanders to Persian calligraphy, by holding his first exhibition at Depot Artspace. This new exhibition is another opportunity to share more of his unique art.


“Everyone has feelings – how they feel and think about life and love,” he says. “This calligraphy is the way I tell people how I feel.”


Ali is receiving support for his exhibition from Art for Change, New Zealand Red Cross and Auckland Refugee Family Trust.


You can visit Sayed’s artist page here.


Below: Ali’s work using traditional inks, glass paper & acrylic:

Sayed Ali Karam Jawhary (Ali), 2020
Ghetea Nastaaliq
traditional inks, gloss paper and acrylic

“If you do a good deed, it brings you a good turn. If you do an evil deed, you deserve a bad turn.
Since the God of the cosmos treats you with his divine grace, so should you favour everybody else.”
Ferdowsi (935- 1020)




November 19, 2020 @ 10:00 am
December 16, 2020 @ 3:30 pm
Event Category:


28 Clarence Street
Auckland, AUK 0624 New Zealand
09 963 2331
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