Arabic calligraphy in Paris

Article author: FUNCI

Date of publication of the article: 20110624

Year of publication: 2011

The American Library in Paris helds an exhibition on islamic calligraphy, by Abdessatar Jmei*

“The style of my calligraphy relates to nature and the coexistence of languages; in this exhibit Arabic, English and French. These colourful letters invite themselves on my blank sheet, like the stranger invited to my table. They are there, one on top the other, in an intimate encounter, they communicate, bring color to each other, run on the medium I choose for them (paper, wood, material, stone, leek leaves, palm tree pieces…). They reinforce or tone each other down in a close intertwining and overlapping relationship.

This style I created is called “The Harvest” and tells the story of a little boy in a village, to the harvest festival in my village, to my love of nature, and most of all to my taste for the others and for new territories. I carve my reeds, I make my own inks, I use leek leaves that I “prepare”. I have fun with my calames (calligraphy pens made from reeds), mixing the traditions and expressions of my inner world. My artistic personality is exuberant and generous. It reveals a rich creativity to serve the eye in search of new wonders”.

*In Tebourba, a little Tunisian town (ancient roman vineyard), Abdessatar Jmei is the elder of six children. His father unloaded grain sacks at the local cooperative, his mother was an embroiderer. Three people cultivated his imagination and helped guide his aspirations: his mother, his uncle who was a scholar, and his teacher Mr. Le Grand a Frenchman on voluntary service in Tunisia who passed on his passion for architecture.

After completing a BAC in Mathématique Technique, Abdessatar earned a Degree in Architecture from the School of Architecture (Strasbourg, Alsace). In 2000 he met Ms Catherine Trautmann, mayor of Strasbourg and the Minister of Culture and Communication for France at the time. This encounter infused a strong belief that culture was not a luxury but an important element in social cohesiveness and a way to build everyone’s self confidence. After the loss of his mother in 2001, calligraphy became a refuge. Abdessatar Jmei’s approach aroused curiosity and interest from cultural institutions, while for himself the strength of his stroke inspired calm and serenity. Then in 2003 Abdessatar earned a Master’s degree in Cultural Mediation from the University of Provence.

In 2005 Abdessatar was selected by the Council of Europe to show his work as part on an exhibition entitled Dance of the Spirit. In preparation for that exhibition Abdessatar developed his calligraphic style called “The Harvest” inspired by wheat fields, intertwining the French and Arabic language mirroring the same coexistence within the artist. Today, Abdessatar Jmei is active in Provence-Côte d’Azur where he works with prisoners in Nice, Grasse and Marseille. He also exhibits his works in France. His two wishes are to build an art museum in his hometown in Tunisia and to exhibit his works in the United States. Abdessatar has a passion for the public and for calligraphy.

Where: The American Library in Paris. 10, rue du Général Camou, 75007 Paris, France

Telephone number: +33 (0)1 53 59 12 60