World of Khayyam as Revealed by Ali Shirazi | Examining the Artistic Work "The Yesterday That’s Gone You Must Forget What it Was"
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World of Khayyam as Revealed by Ali Shirazi | Examining the Artistic Work "The Yesterday That’s Gone You Must Forget What it Was"

In his famous calligraphic piece "The Yesterday That's Gone You Must Forget What It Was," Ali Shirazi demonstrated other innovative aspects of Nastaliq calligraphy using a 30 mm pen and the one-stroke writing technique on a two-by-one-meter frame.

ArtDayME: Born in 1960, Ali Shirazi is a well-known Iranian calligrapher in the Middle East. His use of large pens and one-stroke writing has allowed him to express the new influences of Nastaliq on the field of classical calligraphy. He has innovated without sacrificing originality.

We will look at one of his pieces in this article, "از دی که گذشت هیچ از او یاد مکن," also known as "az di ke gozasht hich az aan yaad makon" (English translation: "The Yesterday That's Gone You Must Forget What it Was"). It includes numerous illustrations of his artwork.

Shirazi has his own unique style in traditional calligraphy. In April 2012, one of his calligraphy artworks broke the record at the 12th Middle East Christie's auction, selling for 60,000 dollars. He also has had several notable sales at the Christie's and Bonhams auctions in London.

1: Master Shirazi offers a unique perspective on the poet, as well as the essence and significance of the Khayyams' contribution to the composition of "The Yesterday That's Gone You Must Forget What It Was."

Here is the opening line of one of the well-known quatrains by the well-known Iranian poet:

az di ke gozasht hich az aan yaad makon 

fardaa ke nayaamadast faryaad makon

bar naamade o gozashte bonyaad makon 

haali khosh baash o omr bar baad makon

English translation: 

The yesterday that's gone you must forget what it was; for the tomorrow not come don't flitter and fuss.

In the not-come and gone make not your cause; be happy just now don't shift with the breeze.

Shirazi selected the opening verse of this poem, which points the listener to Khayyam's philosophical declaration through the use of the term "hich" ("هیچ") in the composition's center. It's ironic that he drew "hich" in such a large font that it appears to be spinning around the other letters and words.

In the context of Iran, the word "hich" (English: "nothing") has two meanings. On the one hand, it alludes to the pointlessness and emptiness of the world, and it might highlight the nihilism and enduring bitterness of life. Conversely, it highlights the need of valuing and seizing this very moment. Khayyam asserts in this verse that we should live in the present with happiness and that the pains of the past are unimportant.

This thought that transcends time is what made Khayyam renowned around the world and elevated him to the status of great poets like the German Goethe. Knowing the subtleties of meaning, the master calligrapher selected this passage from Khayyam, and the word "hich" has left his stamp on the piece of art.

Ali Shirazi's Artwork

2: This piece was made in Shirazi's distinct one-stroke writing style with a large 30mm pen. In addition to accurately writing the fundamentals of calligraphy, skilled calligrapher knows how to subdue ink, produce vivid letter shadows, and produce eye-catching color tones.

Particularly in thick lines, light and shade are like the essence of the handwriting and prevent monotony in the process of working. The observer is drawn in by the handwriting's vitality and energy, which are created by the light and shade. It's interesting to observe that watercolor paintings and calligraphy from China and Japan also make use of the visual magic of light and shade.

Shirazi applies the ink so thickly that he has total control over the word's color concentration from start to finish. In this manner, the entire word is written in a single calligraphic stroke; the pen's width and tip sit to produce the lights and shades.

3: It is traditional to write such poems in Iranian calligraphy as a brief inscription, like "two in one". To ensure that every word and letter is mirrored in the same area, the artist must be able to arrange the letters and words in a coordinated, planned structure.

The work "az di ke gozasht hich az aan yaad makon" is an accomplishment for traditional calligraphy because it adheres to this principle. Regardless of the meaning, even for individuals who are completely unfamiliar with Persian and Arabic letters, it is still a well-composed abstract painting.

4: It's believed that a basic rule of this type of calligraphy is that if you draw a vertical line through the center of the piece, the two halves should balance each other out and give the impression of being comparable. It is challenging to accomplish such a combination with the nine words and multiple letters in this piece, particularly the word "hich," which the artist has written with a unique stretch to encompass the entire text.

You will notice that Shirazi has grasped the idea if you now create such a fictitious paragraph for this work.

5: Three "Ks" ("ک ") in the text present a challenge for the master calligrapher since their placement within the constrained frame will have an impact on the overall composition of the piece.

In Iranian calligraphy, the letter "K" is renowned for its lengthy strokes; nonetheless, Shirazi must deal with the frame's constraints and determine how to arrange the three "Ks". He draws the strokes at upward angles and trims them. The text becomes an intriguing geometric composition when the lower and upper three points of the text intersect.

Ali Shirazi

6: The unique brown ink color of "az di ke gozasht hich az aan yaad makon" is one of its hidden beauties. It appears that the master calligrapher purposefully selected this color, alluding to the text's worldview and interpretations of brown.

They derive brown color from the walnut tree, which is also considered a sort of cultural icon in Iranian mythology, having a connection to the story of Arash, which established the boundaries between Iran and Turan. The brown hue emanating from Arash's walnut tree and the Iranian realm of Khayyam can connect the piece to alternative interpretations.

7: In addition to being brilliant and serving the handwriting well, the illuminated manuscript has its own beautiful ridges that accentuate the calligraphy's proportions.

The creator of the illuminated text has organized a pleasing mix of multiple colors that are stimulating and complementary to the audience, based on the brown ink. Furthermore, the use of two distinct blue hues in the inscription's upper corners has broadened the piece's scope and given the impression that it is larger overall. The master Ramin Merati's workshop completed the illuminated text for this work.

8: Master Shirazi's works are held in many of the Middle East's priceless gems, such as the collections of prominent Arab poet and writer, Mohammad Al Murr in the United Arab Emirates; the Al Owais Institute in Dubai; the Anwar Gargash collection in Dubai; the Juma Al Majid collection in Dubai; the museums in Sharjah, Doha, and Qatar; the most significant private collectors, such as Pasargad Bank of Iran; and religious collections in Iran, including Tehran's Quran Museum and Imam Ali Religious Arts Museum.