Mouneer Al Shaarani: calligraphic rhythms

22 March - 07 juli 2018                                        

Opening: 21 march 2018, 7 pm

Mouneer Al Shaarani „I am the Lover and the Land is Beloved“ Zitat von Mahmoud Darwish, Gouache auf Papier, 80 x 60 cm 

Mouneer Al Shaarani „I am the Lover and the Land is Beloved“ Zitat von Mahmoud Darwish, Gouache auf Papier, 80 x 60 cm 

Opening: 21 March 2018,  7 pm | BOX Freiraum

Opening Speech : Carolina Mojto, Director of BOX Freiraum | Prof. Dr. Stefan Weber, Director of Museum für Islamische Kunst | Introduction: Mouneer Al Shaarani

In cooperation with the Friends of the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum, BOX Freiraum is pleased to present one of the most renowned calligrapher and graphic designer of the Middle East; the Syrian artist Mouneer Al Shaarani.

In his first solo exhibition in Germany, the artist showcases a full range of his work and speaks about his oeuvre in a series of lectures and workshops. He explores the big questions humanity is faced with:

“In my calligraphies I use a lot of proverbs about freedom, human nature and the battles we have to fight in life.”  – Fann Magazin, 2018

Al Shaarani develops the ancient Arabic tradition of calligraphy and places it into a contemporary context. His calligraphic works draw on traditional sayings and modern poetry, on philosophy, prose and sacred books. They use different Arabic styles of calligraphy including Kufic, Diwani and Riq’ah as well as Persian styles such as Thuluth.

“For me, it has always been important to draw attention to two things: firstly, that Arabic calligraphy has nothing to do with religion. It is the product of a civilisation, not a religion. Religion has benefited from calligraphy, not the other way round. The development of Arabic script was not driven by religion, but by the Umayyad state.
Secondly, that calligraphy is a form of art. It knows neither end nor pinnacle. Arabic script is not sacred in my eyes – I want to break free of the cage built around it at the time of the Ottomans." – Fann Magazin, 2018

The particular flow of the artist’s script and his compositions have added a new dimension to Arabic calligraphy. The movements and repetitions in his calligraphies are rhythmic in nature, form and meaning forming a harmonious whole.

The 2015 exhibition “My voice rings out for Syria” at BOX Freiraum featured several works by and about Al Shaarani such as Jaber Al Azmeh’s photograph which shows Mouneer Al Shaarani with the daily newspaper Al Baath.

Jaber Al Azmeh, “The Resurrection” Series, 2011

Jaber Al Azmeh, “The Resurrection” Series, 2011

Mouneer Al Shaarani, calligraphy on Baath newspaper

Translation:No to Baath / Yes to democracy / No to the state’s terror regime / Yes to revolution / Yes to freedom / Yes to national unity / No to international interventions / Yes to building the future”


The accompanying programme in BOX Freiraum and the Museum of Islamic Art in the Pergamon Museum is an important part of the exhibition.



Welcome speech: Carolina Mojto, director of BOX Freiraum and Prof. Dr. Stefan Weber, director of the Museum of Islamic Art

Introduction: Mouneer Al Shaarani

21 March 2018, from 7 pm | BOX Freiraum | Open to the public


Mouneer Al Shaarani – Introduction to the Arabic alphabet and calligraphy (Kufic style)

One-day workshop: Visitors will learn to write their name in Arabic and the artist will interpret their names in different calligraphic styles.

23 March 2018, 2 pm – 6 pm | BOX Freiraum (free admission)

24 March 2018, 2 pm – 6 pm | BOX Freiraum (free admission)

Register at | Limited to 15 people


Mouneer Al Shaarani – On the history of Arabic calligraphy and his work

Artist talk: The artist will write the names of the participants.

27 March 2018, 4 pm – 6 pm | Mschatta Hall in the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum

Open to the public (Museum Admission)


Matchmaking workshop – The Latin alphabet and Arabic calligraphy

Practical workshop with Mouneer Al Shaarani, Luc(as) de Groot (Lucas Fonts), Ben Wittner and Sascha Thoma (Eps51) – For students and graphic designers

31 March and 01 April | More information to follow on | Limited to 15 people


Prof. Dr. Stefan Weber – Introduction to calligraphy in the Islamic world


30 May 2018, 7 pm | BOX Freiraum (free admission) | Register at


Guided exhibition tours with co-curator Khaled Kurbeh

in German or English

Every Saturday at 4 pm | BOX Freiraum (free admission)


Literature Programme

Readings of Arabic and Western poetry and prose

April – May 2018 | For more information visit:

Please register by sending an email to or fill out below form: 


Name *


Mouneer Al Shaarani, born in Syria in 1952, lives in Damascus

Mouneer Al Shaarani is an internationally renowned Syrian artist, calligrapher, book designer and author and has developed many Arabic scripts. He started doing calligraphy at the age of 10 and studied with the famous Syrian calligrapher Badawi Al Dirani. He has worked as a calligrapher since 1967 and made a name for himself designing covers and logos. This scholar and innovator has written many articles and textbooks on calligraphy and Arabic and Islamic art. He was also a consultant for the International Arab Encyclopaedia.

He had to go into exile in 1979. After many years, he once again lives in his hometown of Damascus. In an interview for The National in 2015, he said:

The situation is very bad, but it is my country, I feel at this time, I must not leave it. Before I was living outside, but now I feel I must stay, live and work in order to inspire.”

His works have been featured in many exhibitions and museums worldwide, including Cultural House, Abu Dhabi (1994); Shawqi Museum, Cairo (1998);  Museum Rietberg, Zurich (1998);  Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah  (2001); Centre International de la Poesie, Marseille (2006); British Museum, London (2006); Gezira Art Center, Cairo (2006); Casa Arabe, Madrid (2011); Tabari Artspace, Dubai (2013, 2015); BOX Freiraum, Berlin (2015) and Mils Gallery, Sydney (2016).