The work of the Libyan artist, Ali Omar Ermes, Letter Kaf: The Power of Expression, represents a dramatic departure in its scale, treatment, and intent. Measuring 130 cm x 95 cm, the painting is dominated by the form of a single letter of the Arabic alphabet, the letter ‘kaf’ or ‘k’, created with one continuous brush stroke.
The composition, which reads more as an undulating abstraction than an actual letter, is notable for its boldness and spontaneity.
While evoking the fluidity of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, the single letter, monumentalised and stripped to its most essential form, also echoes the expressiveness of the ‘New Style’ script discussed earlier.
Perhaps to accentuate the creative tension between the present and the past, Ermes has also included a poem from the 10th century Kitab al-Aghani (Book of Songs) by Abu’l Faraj al-Isfahani. Written in the traditional Maghrebi style, associated with North Africa and Islamic Spain, the script shares the rhythm and energy of the large ‘kaf’.
Original name (Arabic): حرف الكاف
Original production date: 1991
Artwork Size: 130cm x 95cm
Materials: Acrylic on and ink paper
Location of Original: The Freer Gallery, Smithsonian Museum, Washington D.C.