15 Artists Under 30: The Street Art & Calligraphy of Yazan Halwani
Each week, we’ll feature a few of our New Visual Artists—15 remarkable up-and-coming artists and creatives under the age of 30. Read about Yazan Halwani below, and meet all of PRINT’s New Visual Artists in the Summer 2016 issue of PRINT Magazine.
From: Beirut, Lebanon.
Current city: Between Beirut and Dubai.
Education: American University of Beirut (Bachelor of Computer and Communications Engineering).
Earliest creative memory: That is very hard to remember, as creativity for me is a continuous process rather than “eureka” moments. I create my pieces through continuous thinking and focus in small amounts of time for each piece.
detail featuring Arabic calligraphy for Yazan’s 2016 PRINT New Visual Artists cover
Path that led you to design: My main objective was to paint a positive image of my city, Beirut, after the civil war, and to remove all pictures of politicians on the walls that hijack the city’s beauty. I designed murals that sprayed across the city.
“The Arab Man, and the Asian Cherry Blossom Tree,” painted live during the Singapore Art Fair in 2014.
Mural of Lebanese singer and actress Sabah in the Hamra neighborhood of Beirut.
Career in a nutshell: An Arab muralist/artist on the move.
The key to good design: When a mural fits within the urban landscape as if the city was built around it.
Motto/design philosophy: Letters can be letters, faces and art at large.
Mural of Lebanese singer Fayrouz installed next to the 392rmeil393 art gallery in Gemmayzeh, Beirut.
Fayrouz on Canvas, Part of Yazan’s past show in Courtyard Gallery Dubai in March/April 2014
Biggest influence: Traditional Arabic calligraphers who paint old-school political propaganda banners—I love their talent, but hate their messages.
How you would classify your style: A blend of faces and Arabic calligraphy with a twist.
Design hero: I don’t believe in heroes.
Favorite artist: Leonardo da Vinci.
Favorite writer: A poet, Mahmoud Darwish.
A mural that serves as a tribute to Ali Abdallah, a homeless man that lived on Bliss Street in the Hamra neighborhood of Beirut, 2015.
Favorite typographer: An Iraqi calligrapher called Khalil Al-Zahawi.
What defines you: So far, my perpetual search for identity …
Cause that means the most to you: Making cities reflect the lives of their inhabitants.
Your idea of happiness: People getting possessive over murals I have painted: stealing my cement sculptures from the street, taking out a door that was part of my mural, or asking me to fix a mural that was damaged because the mural is next to their homes.
What you think the future of design is: For Arabic calligraphy at least: being able to express meaning not through the meaning of the word (which can only be understood by Arabic readers) but by the shape and stroke of the letter.
More work by Yazan Halwani:
“The Arabic Spring, or the Girl and the Calligraphy Flower” in Djerba, Tunisia.
“The Flower Salesman” mural in Dortmund, Germany.