Nota Baru

Husin Hourmain
Nota Baru
Ink on Paper
26cm x 53cm x 5cm (d) with frame (each)

Written by Zoey

According to the Quran, the verses revealed to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad began with the “Iqra”, which can be translated to “read”. This simple word, a powerful command for the Muslims to learn to read deeper into the Quran to obtain guidance for their lives, is also hugely meaningful to artist Husin Hourmain, informing a large part of his artistic exploration into calligraphy.

To have the ability to read and gain knowledge, one must first understand words. To understand words, one needs to identify the alphabet, and that is exactly what Husin portrayed in his 2013 solo Awal Hurouf Asal Hurouf, where he created a series of the 30 Jawi alphabets.

If in his solo the artist could be likened to a young child learning about the basic alphabet, in Nota Baru the artist takes another step forward, signifying his arrival at a stage where the child begins to string alphabets together to form words. In this case, Husin builds combinations of letters to spell out short words or phrases from the Quran that are close to his heart, such as “yasin”, “alif lam mim” and “thoha”.

Composed from intricate black markings, Husin’s sketches demonstrate his ongoing effort to closely examine Islamic calligraphic styles. En route to produce Nota Baru, the artist performed a set of typographical experiments to further understand typography styles as well as the unique shapes and characteristics of each letter. The practice also helps him to decide how to join the alphabets – be it to discover the most visually captivating or impactful way, or to choose between a simple versus complicated method.

Notice also the small notations in the sides of the pages that Husin has made to document his personal feelings about the words. These poetic reflections match the quiet, contemplative nature of the Nota Baru sketches, which represent Husin’s brief respite from his paintings.

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