Different Dialogues : | Khalid Ali Al Jalaf

In Conversation with Mr. Khalid Ali Al Jallaf – Artist & Calligrapher.

Educational Background: License in Law and Jurisprudence from UAE University 1984, Researcher in Arabic Calligraphy, Islamic Art and History.

Professional Background: Quality Consultant in Dubai Health Authority. Executive Editor of Hroof Arabiya (The only quarterly magazine about Arabic Calligraphy in the world).

The following interview was taken and recorded in November 2011.

I met Khalid Ali Al Jallaf very recently, in Abu Dhabi at the seminar on “Arab-Indo Relations through the Ages in History, Art & Culture”. At the wonderfully organized event (under the royal patronage of H. H. Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan & Embassy of India), Khalid Ali Al Jallaf presented the inter-connectivity between Arabia and India, specifically covering, the realm of Calligraphy in India. In his well-knit lecture (Arabic Calligraphy, the Jewel of the Islamic Art Crown), he showed different types of lines of Islamic Calligraphy that adorn historical sites in India.

This interview aimed to know more about Khalid, took place in the cradle of a respected art-hub in Dubai - The Majlis Gallery. The mutual earnestness to choose the Majlis Gallery as the venue was affable and logical for both of us. Over there, Khalid’s exhibition was displaying the versatility of his mature brush-strokes dabbling in the instant magic of his water-colour-dimensions. I studied at leisure the artist’s calligraphic creative work, substantially, built around the ‘mosaic’ theme.

During our dialogue, lion’s share went to deep spiritual thought which kneaded my own perception to raise many pertinent questions to Khalid about Khalid. Born in Dubai in 1962, Khalid’s father was in business of watches – in Iran, Pakistan, India; his forefathers were dhow-builders. Hence, the surname: Al Jallaf. Khalid’s law-education-background draws him to those ancient times when through the noble Quran and Hadith, laws were formed, and doctrines implemented. He feels a sense of great pride to go back to his Islamic heritage and forms the sanctity of similar emblems on paper with his brush of multitude treatments. The accumulative results come out in the framed captions: The Power of Unity (water colour and Gold), Dubai the Pearl of the Universe (water colour). There is no Victor but Allah (water colour, Gouche and Copper) Guidance of God (water colour and Gouch and Copper) Victory Cometh only from Allah (water colour).

Khalid says, “When I was exposed to the western world in 1986, this was a formative period for me. Related to Health Services Development, I was sent to Birmingham (England) for 6 months. The new surroundings of different hues became great influences for my mind.”

I could see the truth in Khalid’s statements that the flora and fauna of Europe had opened the doors of his veiled energy that was simply waiting to be unmasked. By this time, Khalid had already been a part of a Group Exhibition (1984) at the UAE University Campus in Al Ain.

Khalid says, his talent of painting could well have been inherited from his late mother who sketched and embroided. “I am completely self-taught,” he says. The name of the great contemporary master Abdul Qadir Al Rais is mentioned by Khalid with respectful awe and he describes him as his quiet mentor.

Khalid explains in detail how the transparency of water colours influences the essence of his spiritual bent of mind. Not wholly unnatural for any artist, the period between 1998-2008 was a dormant period for Khalid as far as creative work of painting was concerned. Then by chance, in 2008, an Emirati lady called him up from the Sharjah Museum of Calligraphy for an exhibition. He declined, but later decided to present his work. He says, “That was my awakening point! I was reborn. I worked day and night to present my work for the exhibition.”

This is Khalid’s 4th Solo Exhibition. Glancing at Khalid’s exhibition-catalogue, I agree with what Alison Collins (Founder & Co-owner of The Majlis Gallery) has to say, “He (Khalid) has become somewhat of an ambassador in recent years travelling to various countries including Japan, Germany, Spain and Korea to represent UAE in cross culture exchanges that he freely admits are as much about fun as they are serious. To watch him preparing his pens and paper to listening to him translating the meaning of a piece of Kufic text is to be in the presence of a true enthusiast who loves to share his world of Calligraphic imagery with the world in general.”

Q 1. What has been the turning point of your life?
A. The turning point of my life was meeting Abdul Qadir Al Rais during my childhood and listening to his advice to concentrate on Arabic calligraphy, rather than on painting – which made me search for a master in the art of calligraphy. As I could not find one, I became a self-taught artist.

Q 2. If you could go back in time, what would you want to do?
A. If I could go back in time, I would like to become a full time artist but with knowledge and academic background in art to be able to spread the glory of my art internationally and professionally, through lectures books and movies and professional teaching institutes.

Q 3. What are your future dreams?
A. My future dreams are unlimited but can be concentrated in becoming one of the most knowledgeable and famous artist in the world in my field, and to exhibit my paintings in most famous capitals in the world, and see the art of Arabic calligraphy in its position as a great art of a great nation.

The diarist, Geeta Chhabra, took the interview earlier in November 2011 for www.geetachhabra.com

Geeta Chhabra

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