Museum Crush

Hassan Massoudy welcomes “the words of poets and the imagination of onlookers” to October Gallery

Hassan Massoudy, ”Even if happiness forgets you occasionally, never forget it completely” (Jaques Prevert (1900 – 1977)’, 2015. Courtesy October Gallery, London

October Gallery presents a new solo exhibition by master artist-calligrapher, Hassan Massoudy

Peace and tolerance are central themes of the work of Hassan Massoudy, an artist for whom the word itself remains the most sublime creative force.

The Iraqi born master calligrapher’s work features the texts of a diverse range of writers, from poet, Charles Baudelaire and philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Virgil and Ibn ‘Arabi.

For this October Gallery exhibition, his second at the London gallery, visitors will encounter a poetic mix of present and past, east and west, tradition and modernity played out across a series of beautiful one-metre square canvasses.

A sense of balance can found in the strength of line and grace of the works of Massoudy, which are complemented by the words of poets, philosophers and scientists drawn from across the centuries.

Hassan Massoudy, ”Life and Joy culminate where beauty reigns’ (Schiller, 1759-1805)’, 2017. Courtesy October Gallery London

Hassan Massoudy, ”Wisdom comes to us in dreams’ (Smohalla, 19th century)’, 2017. Courtesy October Gallery, London (2)

As perhaps befits the calligraphic medium, titles like ‘Men build too many walls and not enough bridges’ (Isaac Newton), and ‘With a strong will one can pass through stone’ (Alexis Kivi, 1834 – 1872) give an indication of Massoudy’s values – and his love of the written word.

This pervasive sense of peace and forbearance has seen him work with Amnesty International, UNICEF and other related organisations.

Born in 1944 in Najaf, southern Iraq, Massoudy moved to Baghdad in 1961 where he learnt the various classical styles of calligraphy and studied graphic design and fine arts.

His desire to study art, coinciding with the political events in Iraq at the time, saw him depart for Paris in 1969, where he enrolled at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. Here his love of the great Arabic masters merged with the influence of artists Léger, Matisse, Soulages and Picasso.

Hassan Massoudy, ‘Men Build Too Many Walls and Not Enough Bridges’, Issac Newton (1643 – 1727), 2016. Courtesy October Gallery, London

Hassan Massoudy, ”With a strong will one can pass through stone’ (Alexis Kivi, 1834 – 1872)’, 2015. Courtesy October Gallery, London

But it was to calligraphy, a practical skill that supported him throughout his studies in Paris working on the mastheads of Franco Arabic newspapers, that he returned, and which has since provided an outlet for his distinctly serene vision.

As Massoudy himself says: “The gestures of the calligrapher become an open space, welcoming the words of the poet and the imagination of the onlooker”.

Hassan Massoudy, ”Wisdom comes to us in dreams’ (Smohalla, 19th century)’, 2017. Courtesy October Gallery, London

Hassan Massoudy: Breath, Gesture and Light is at October Gallery from December 7 2017 – January 27 2018


October Gallery

London, Greater London

Art Gallery showing contemporary Art from Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East Cafe - serving cuisine from around the world Open air courtyard, library, theatre, concert hall to hire.