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Aatifi - News from Afghanistan
Painting, Works on Paper, and Video

03.07.2015 to 18.10.2015

Mysterious shapes and lines - this was how Aatifi first perceived letters as a child. Since then, the artist has worked closely with Islamic calligraphy, engaging with the form and essence of Arabic characters. Aatifi learned the most important styles of the classical art of calligraphy in the city of his birth, Kandahar, Afghanistan. Even as a student of the art of calligraphy, he began to modify the characters. Over the years, he has refined and reduced elements of Islamic calligraphy, developing a unique visual language that is both independent of text and universally understandable.

Responding to scriptural traditions, Aatifi synthesizes elements of classical style and the rich quality of light and color found in the Middle East with modern art. He selects characters purely for their aesthetic and compositional aspects, and then fragments, rotates, and layers the lines and shapes to convey power and dynamism, depth and space.

With the solo exhibition 'News from Afghanistan', the Pergamonmuseum presents vibrant contemporary art that draws from the rich culture of the Islamic world. The exhibition includes around three dozen paintings and prints that Aatifi created specifically for the Museum für Islamische Kunst. The artist's large-scale works are displayed alongside art from fourteen centuries of Islamic culture. A highlight of the exhibition comes in the Mshatta Hall, which features the monumental, early-Islamic palace façade (Jordan, 8th century). Displayed on the opposing walls, two paintings by Aatifi echo the façade's monumentality, one of them measuring 3.80 by 6 metres, the other 3 by 3.80 metres. The result is 1,250 years of art in dialogue. Works on paper can be viewed in the Cabinet for Book Art. In addition to the exhibition, two films give insight into the creation and development of the art of writing and the long tradition of Islamic calligraphy.

James-Simon-Galerie, Bodestraße
10178 Berlin

partially wheelchair accessible
Please note: Pergamonmuseum is exclusively entered through James-Simon-Galerie!
Site plan: Entrance to the Pergamonmuseum and Neues Museum (PDF)

All groups meet at the information desk at the upper foyer in James-Simon-Galerie, entering by using the big stairway.
Advice for group visits to the Pergamonmuseum an the Neues Museum (PDF)

Due to a technical issue, the lift is out of service until further notice, meaning the Museum für Islamische Kunst is not currently wheelchair accessible. The major architectural exhibits – such as the Processional Way, featuring the Ishtar Gate and the Market Gate of Miletus – are still accessible to people with mobility issues. 


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