Arts & Entertainment

eL Seed: When calligraphy, community and mindfulness merge

By Alberto Domingo Carreiro

Miami, Mar 12 (EFE).- For eL Seed, street art is about being in the moment and being part of a community.

“When you paint in the street, everything can disappear, but what remains is the moment you live with the community,” Seed told Efe.

Born in Paris in 1981 to a Tunisian family, Seed is presenting Collection of Moments which will be his debut retrospective in the US.

The show brings together some 20 paintings and sculptures in his trademark which draws heavily from Arabic script, all made in the last decade.

Despite the fact his art is often described as calligraphic, Seed does not consider himself a calligrapher because he has “his own style” that does not follow traditional norms.

To be one requires years of study and being appointed by a teacher, he adds.

“I always say that Arabic writing and calligraphy reach your soul before touching your eyes. And even if you don’t understand what it says and don’t know anything about it, it is something that creates an emotion within you,” the artist says.

Seed’s method is to travel to different corners of the world and engage with communities through conversation. This inspires him to “find the words of the story” he wants to tell.

“I want the local people to want that painting or sculpture and for it to inspire them since I don’t like colonizing and imposing myself in a place,” he says.

Seed took his artistic name as a teenager in the streets of Paris from his Tunisian roots in a nod to the Arabic for The Man, Al Sayed.

“There came a point where I didn’t feel French in France and I didn’t feel Tunisian and at one point I had to decide to be one or the other and I decided to be Tunisian, and that’s how I decided to learn Arabic, although later I realized that I didn’t need to choose,” the artist adds.

Now he wants to share the beauty of Arab culture in Miami, after sharing his message of peace and unity to countries like South Korea, Italy and Canada, among many others.

“I use Islamic art as my vehicle, but I don’t create art for Arab people in particular. I really want to show the beauty in Arabic writing,” said the artist.

One of his most famous projects is Perception (2016) in the Manshiyat Naser neighborhood of Cairo where “the garbage people” live, a Coptic community that has collected waste from the city for decades and has developed one of the most efficient recycling systems on the planet.

It was there that the artist painted a large mural that straddles 50 buildings in just three weeks.

When viewing the artwork from a specific location, viewers can read the words of 3rd-century Coptic archbishop Saint Athanasius of Alexandria:

“Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first.”

In the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, Seed also left his stamp on a metal fence.

Architecture and calligraphy are the two pillars on which Islamic art is based because due to religious norms, the centuries-old figurative art of other religions did not occur in Islam.

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