Ali Omar Ermes is a prolific artist, writer, and community activist. Since 1968, he has created ‘literary artworks’, paintings based on Arabic literature and letters. Often in his compositions, such as the piece included here, Ermes focuses on the single letter lam. With stunning colour and deft technique, Ermes infuses the letter with vibrant character and an unfolding visual narrative.
Throughout this significant body of work, the words and text are always legible. Bridging the aesthetics of the visual form with linguistic meaning, Ermes shares the power of Islamic thought for the contemporary moment with his international audiences.
Born in Libya, Ermes traveled to England for his education, receiving a diploma from the Plymouth School of Architecture and Design in 1970 and later attending the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design (formerly known as the Central School of Art and Design) in London.
He is active in numerous cultural institutions dedicated to interfaith dialogue and is the chairman of the Muslim Cultural Heritage Center in London. Ermes also publishes widely in Arabic and English on a variety of social and cultural issues.
He has participated in over sixty exhibitions worldwide and his work is held by private collections and prominent museums, including the British Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Ali Omar Ermes lives and works in London.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Middle East Brand Director Renaud Pretet and members of the Touchline board were recently received by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Higher Committee for Dubai Expo 2020 to present the special painting ‘Tawasul Al-Himam’ (The Continuum of Resolve) by Ali Omar Ermes. The great work of art was commissioned by Jeager-LeCoultre and Touchline FZ-LLC in celebration of Dubai’s expo theme.
East-West: Objects Between Cultures
Tate Britain: Exhibition
1 September 2006 – 18 February 2007
Ali Omar Ermes, Shadda 1980
Watercolour and gold on paper
635 x 615 mm
Lent by the British Museum
The verse inscription relates to social equality. Like the Tachiste works displayed in this room, ‘Shadda‘ depicts a gesture imbued with meaning. Although some of these Tachiste works are reminiscent of calligraphy, Arabic script is given spiritual significance in Ermes’ work, as a written expression of Qur’anic revelation.
What is the relationship between image and word in this example of calligraphy?