I have given this silkscreen print the title, Qasida because of the ways in which its geometric components mirror the rhythmic structure of the classical ode.
Verbal and visual expression were destined to be twinned in Arab arts ever since the traditional odes known as the mu‘allaqat were, according to pre-Islamic legends, inscribed in gold and suspended on the walls of the Ka‘ba to be celebrated as a ‘feast for the eyes’.
For centuries, the classical form of the qasida was composed of two equally rhyming hemistiches which maintained a single end rhyme throughout the poem. Highly complex word patterns were created out of the prosodic length of quiescent vowels and vocalised consonants to combine the feet, generating the sixteen meters in Arabic poetry. The caesura, named al-misra‘, marked the central break between the two halves of each verse in what has been termed ‘amudi, or vertical poetry. This binary form in the poem’s metric cadence subsequently found its visual echo in the symmetries permeating all arabesque patterns in Islamic art.
The composition of this silkscreen print evolved from studies I had originally undertaken between 1987 and 1990. At the time, I was living in Washington, D.C. The media was dominated by the outbreak of the first popular uprising against the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The national flag of Palestine, which had been banned by the Israeli authorities, could be seen in every street manifestation. The list of children killed by Israeli sharpshooters for carrying the flag was extensive. Today, other children from the Gaza Strip continue to be targeted for carrying the flag in the Great March of Return.
In homage to all those who fell or who were maimed for carrying the flag, I created a work of art based on the geometric components of the flag’s triangle and its three parallel stripes. Through the formation of a module out of the square unit of the flag’s configuration, I devised endless patterns whose permutations recall the language of traditional arabesques.
The pattern composition of this silkscreen print is dedicated to the imperishable spirit of resistance of the people of Palestine.”
Kamal Boullata Berlin, December 2018.
Directly from the artist
Dar El Nimer, Beirut, June 2019
The National, January 24th 2020 https://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/art/new-exhibition-on-late-artist-kamal-boullata-to-show-his-last-work-1.968966