WITH MY WORK I FEEL THAT I CONTRIBUTE TO THE WELLNESS OF THE SOCIETY
(Alessandra Giorda) Hicham Chajai is one of the most appreciated artists in the world in the art of calligraphy. His works are amazing and in the following interview he tells himself between public and private. He will take us on a wonderful journey between passion and profession for this wonderful art.
Chajai organized several successful events in Paris, Dubai, Copenhagen, Roma, Doha and Luanda and soon he will be the protagonist, with other 6 artists, of CaliXpressions. This event, in Dubai, curated by Jesno Jakson -Art4You Gallery.
Can you please elaborate on your transformation from an engineering student to a calligraphy artist?
The transformation was a smooth and natural process. Indeed, since my childhood, I have been practicing parallel activities which developed both my academic and artistic backgrounds. Before Calligraphy, I was a musician and I graduated from the National Conservatory of Colmar in France. I discovered Arabic Calligraphy at my engineering school in Paris. Calligraphy was a module associated the Arabic class. My Master was Frederic Fattal, from Syria and I spent few years of intensive training with him. Since then , I have always combined my artistic and scientific activities.
Is calligraphy for you, a profession or a passion?
First of all, Calligraphy is a passion for me. I have always been fascinated by the beauty of Arabic Letters and the opportunity I had to learn from a Master the foundations of Calligraphy was one of these unforgettable gifts I received in my life. Later, I worked during many years on my own to improve my skills and develop my own style.
I am now turning this passion into a profession thanks to the internet and its ability to reach out people without borders or filters. I am offering a wide range of design services to clients spread all over the word in Americas, Africa, Europe, Australia and Middle East.
What has inspired to develop your interest in calligraphy?
First of all the pride of my origins. I was born and raised in France with Moroccan roots and I found in Calligraphy the best way for me to express this feeling of pride, share elements of my culture with fun and spread a tolerance message.
Then my admiration for this millenial pillar of the Arabic Culture completed my motivation. I have always been fascinated by the beauty of Arabic Letters and wanted to be part of this adventure.
How do you utilize the god gifted talent for the wellness of the society?
I mainly do bespoke designs for various type of projects, personal or professional. People contact me for help and I support them materialize their ideas. Finding a Calligrapher that listens and can provide fully customized services is not so easy. I feel that I contribute to the wellness of the society when I realize the importance of these projects for my clients. They need this type of calligraphic services not only to ornament their home but also to develop their business (logo for start-ups), to engrave on their skin important values (tattoo designs), to remember important moment of their life (wedding, jewelry, etc.) or to make meaningful gifts.
I would also say that the combination of my artistic and engineering backgrounds is contributing to my ability to deliver meaningful projects to my clients.
Which language do you prefer in the creation of calligraphy?
Although I was born in France and made on various occasion artworks with Latin letters, I never found there the magic that Arabic language offers. Arabic Calligraphy is an harmonious combination of applying strict rules and enjoying the freedom. It sounds like a harmonious mix between engineering and art if I may say so...
With Arabic letters, I feel free to create any shape, any design. It requires some mathematical skills and a creative mind to find the best composition and realize the blending of Arabic letters to almost any shape.
Which are the major exhibitions you have partaken in?
I must admit that participating to international exhibitions is something relatively new to me. My last experience was in Beirut this month where I was invited to participate to the Arab Art Fair. It was a great honour for me to show my Art in Lebanon and the public was very enthusiastic about my style and refreshing approach. It is another vision of calligraphy that I am offering.
In general, I organize my exhibitions myself and I always combine them with a cultural activity so the visitors can see various aspects of our beautiful culture. For example, my event in Angola got a national coverage from TV and newspapers. Angolan were very curious in discovering Art expressions from another culture.
I organized several successful events in Paris, Dubai, Copenhagen, Roma, Doha and Luanda.
By which methods do you share the knowledge of your art to a larger community?
I have two ways of sharing the knowledge of my Art. Either using social media and internet which help reaching a very large community, or by teaching. I have developed a self-learning method with a lot of videos, schematics and explanations. This method was designed to help people who have difficulties to find a good teacher near them.
How do you select the subjects? Do your creations have a story to be told?
It depends. When a client contacts me, he or she usually already has an idea and story behind the maturation of the subject. Many times, it relates to an important moment of their live that they want to capture with a calligraphy. Calligraphy has this advantage of generating meaningful artworks. I usually advise my clients to combine the shape with the meaning so the entire artwork is conveying the desired message.
In other occasions, I select my subjects according to a place, a context, a feeling or a tribute. As I am a curious person by nature, I also like to explore new frontiers.
Are you solely interested in calligraphy or does any other form of art peek your interest?
As I mentioned earlier, I used to be a musician. I used to play solo, chamber music and in bigger bands. This musical heritage still inspires me. I am also attracted by other forms of graphical design. When time allows, I will use elements from fine arts, graffiti or sculpture into my future creations.
Of course, you would be having clients across the globe, what are the criteria's which you try to imprint onto your creations.
As I am very open to innovation and exploring new ideas or concept, I have not really set boundaries in how I imprint onto my creations. I am looking so much forward to creating new concepts that the real limits are the technical aspects of my work. For example, I have not done yet creation on large scale like a wall, but this will come soon.
What is the easiest way for the enthusiast to know more about you and to follow your works
For me, social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and website. I have gathered them under a single name which makes it easier to find me and to switch from one media to another.
The name is: "TheArabicCalligraphy".
I also have websites in 4 different languages, French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. Arabic version is on its way.
Can you please enlighten our readers with the plans and dreams you hope to achieve in the future
My dream is to create a cultural hub in Paris where people can meet and share their passion for Calligraphy and Designs. I would love to travel more to spread my activity either through exhibition or workshops. My dream is to see the community of calligrapher increase and perpetuate this wonderful Art.
When I look at my students and I see happiness in their eyes, I am feeling proud of contributing to this millennial Art
Nowadays artist use various social media platforms for sharing their creations. Which social media is of your preference?
I have tried various social media and observed that instagram is probably the best tool to share my creations and my work. Nevertheless, it is a good practice to appear on various social media and have a website to build your visibility.