Majid Alyousef is an Iraqi-Saudi contemporary artist and Arabic typographer based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He has been practicing Arabic calligraphy for more than 25 years and acquired mastery in the challenging Thuluth script. His work can be identified by a unique marriage of intricate craftsmanship and experimental composition that frequently blurs lines between Islamic art and Abstraction, Cubism and the stylized Arabic alphabet. The Bauhaus School has significantly influenced Alyousef’s practice, and it is possible to pick out the blocks of primary colours and rational architectural simplicity of the 19th century movement within both his works on paper and typography designs.
Alyousef, who is both Saudi and Iraqi, was born in 1974 and grew up in Basra where there was no formal calligraphy instruction available to him. At the precocious age of eight he expressed interest in committing himself to the medium, and using books and the guidance of several old masters, built up his skill entirely due to his own disciplined study. Ultimately, his family relocated to Saudi Arabia and he pursued a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts from Iraq and a Masters degree in Interactive Design and Game Development from the Savannah College of Art and Design in the USA.
Following a successful career serving as Design Director to a number of leading firms, Alyousef left the corporate world in order to dedicate himself to a full time studio practice supplemented by Arabic typography and freelance design work.
In recent years, Majid Alyousef has participated in a number of group exhibitions including the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial 12 and 14, a landmark calligraffiti show at Dubai’s Street Art Gallery, and multiple exhibitions curated by the Dubai Centre of Arabic Calligraphy.
His Arabic typography designs have appeared in several fine art books with clients including the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and the Media Office of HH Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and many other leading brands and institutions.
My work addresses the intersection between language and Abstraction.
I have been practicing and experimenting with the craft of Arabic calligraphy for more than 25 years. Although I am a calligrapher, I consider myself to be a contemporary visual artist first because I am marrying the demanding classical scripts with explorative abstract art. While I retain certain stalwart of calligraphy to emphasize its form and aesthetic values, my compositions also take a journey that is inspired by the philosophies behind Cubism and Futurism, and architectural qualities of the Bauhaus school.
I deeply identify with the Renaissance notion of the artist as intellectual and although I am also a designer in another arena of my life, each of my fine art pieces contains a densely encoded intention, which is equally rooted in methodical precision and expansive thought.
On a very basic level, the letters are just shapes that happen to correspond to decipherable sounds, while Abstraction also engages with uncomplicated forms that are intended to convey messages to viewers. I don’t believe that only those who read and write in Arabic can appreciate my work. The principles of harmony, balance, and meditative repetition at play in the letters fulfil an intuitive human need for rhythm in art, which transcends mediums and contexts.