How did you start Nastaaliq Calligraphy, and what drew your interest to this art form?

I started in Afghanistan; the alphabet is similar to Nastaaliq calligraphy. So, I guess my interest started at seven years old in school. However, I had to flee the country due to warfare. Thus, I left and moved to Iran at 17/18 years old and saw an opportunity to take a Nastaaliq art calligraphy course, and my interest grew from there.

The Nasstaaliq calligraphy you create rotates around a particular poem or passage from ‘Ancient Persian Poets.’ What do you think is more critical the visual Art or the written words?

I don’t think it is possible to separate the two; they both go hand in hand.

What has been your most treasured art piece?

Perhaps the one I use on my business cards. Inspired by Rumi ‘Raise your world, not your voice.’

Ali, you have a very interesting/traditional way of crafting your art pieces through using a bit of bamboo as a pen and ink; where do you get your art supplies?

I usually get the bamboo from a park near my house and the ink I found in an art shop.

What’s the process of your art /how long does it take?

The process of my Art depends on my psyche that day and how I’m feeling. I usually listen to the famous Persian singer Shajarian. Though calligraphy, unlike other art mediums, you have to start again if you make any mistake. Though going back to how I’m feeling that day, it can usually take an estimation of between one day and two weeks to finish.

How do you hope to inspire others wanting to get into Nastaaliq calligraphy?

Well, they have to be absolutely madly in love with their Art as I am.

What does the future hold for you, and are you planning another exhibition?

Yes, I am, though it was supposed to sooner than now called ‘To be One Heart’ and to continue to teach and educate people through Art, as I believe that’s my duty and to quote Rumi, “we came to make this earth beautiful.”

Excerpts of interview article by Lee Lee Williams featured in Auckland Life  (12/11/20)