Ali Omar Ermes is a name which you may or may not be familiar with, but his work you will no doubt have seen. He is an artist with an unique gift; the ability to merge paint and prose. His work is original, vibrant, striking, and intricate. The prose and poetry in question, is taken from many great Arab poets (including Abu Tammam, Al Khawaja Nusserudin, Abu Al-Taahiah, Al Jahiz , and Abdullah Ibn Al-Mubarik to name but a few).
God chose Arabic as the language of Heaven, the language of the Qu'ran, thus it is sacred to every Muslim. Examples of impressive calligraphy in Arabic can be seen in mosques and museums the world over, different styles are evident; from West Africa to Indonesia; each with its own character. The beauty of this calligraphy, which Ermes is able to capture superbly, stems from the rich traditions of Islam and Arabic.
Ermes, born in Libya in 1945 and based in London since 1981, studied first at Portsmouth School of Architecture and Design and then at St. Martins College, London. A devout Muslim, who spends time in charitable voluntary work; he is also a poet himself, therefore poetry plays a central part in his work. The template that Ermes uses is of a central Arabic letter, which takes the centre stage; with the poetry written around it.
On entering Ermes's most recent exhibition, one is instantly taken aback by the impressive array of colours and contrasts used by Ermes. Each letter of the Arabic alphabet is given equal attention. A point worthy of note is that the letter 'Alif' has been featured in four separate pieces; punctuated by the four Arabic vowels, damma, kasra, fatah, and sucoon. Also on display are verses from the Qu'ran (written in the Moorish script), dating from 12th century Cordoba.
The style adopted by Ermes in his latest exhibition is that of his native Libya; the 'Maghribi' (West African) script originating in the 10th century. Observing the various pieces by Ermes, one can see the various emotions and moods which flow; each piece is unique, like a primary key, the poetry reflecting the mood of the canvas, interspersed to create a complete picture. Some pieces are highly complex and colourful (for instance the piece 'Ahaje Juha'), with many pentameters of prose, whilst other pieces are simpler (like 'Lammatul Lamm') with only a verse of poetry in black and white. Nevertheless, all the pieces, whether simple or complex, have the same effect of completely grabbing one's attention.
Proceeds from sales of Ali Omar Erme's recent work, will go to a Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP), a British charity dedicated to helping Palestinians since 1984. MAP is actively providing practical support, friendship, and stability to the Palestinians, in the Occupied Territories and refugee camps in Lebanon, who have been displaced from their homes.
To conclude, a stanza by Abdullah Ibni Al-Mubarik, from the piece entitled 'Lammatul Lamm' 'Doing good to humanity is always fundamentally right and good, never mind who appreciates it from those who do not'.
To view some of Ali's work, visit: http://www.aliomarermes.co.uk. The exhibition in question is taking place at: 47 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 3FE. Nearest tube: Green Park