Calligraphy has been an expression of Muslim artistic identity since the arrival of Islam. It primarily grew out of the significance of Qur’an as sacred text and was driven by the aesthetics of ornament central to Islamic art. Since Pakistan sought a national identity after Partition, art forms of the Islamic world became one of the main frontiers of expressing a unique identity. However, as the first few decades of Pakistan coincided with a greater interaction with the West, a new visual idiom developed in calligraphy as well; the Painterly Calligraphy. This paper describes how Pakistani Calligraphers, spearheaded by creative imagination, broke from tradition and infused aesthetics of modern art in indigenous sensibility. After establishing the significance of Calligraphy in Islam, the paper features the pioneers of Painterly Calligraphy in Pakistan and analyses some of their works.
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