If you’re a fan of Arabic calligraphy then you must have heard of El Seed, the Franch-Tunisian graffiti artist who became – in recent years – one of the most influential Arab artists in the world. El Seed initially gained fame for painting a verse from the Quran on the minaret of a mosque in his Tunisian hometown of Gabes. The artist’s works transcend languages, promots tolerance and peace and are a real sight for sore eyes.
El Seed now travels the world to leave his mark on landscapes of forgotten places with emotional, historical value.
1. “O’ humankind, we have created you male and female and made you people and tribes, so that you may know each other”
In his Tunisian hometown of Gabes, the island of Djerba, or any street in Tunisia, you will always find El Seed’s “calligraffiti” in the most surprising places.
This calligraphy painted on a mosque’s minaret is called Tacapes, which is also the Roman name for Gabes. It depicts a verse from the Koran: “O humankind, we have created you from a male and a female and made you people and tribes, so you may know each other.”
2. “I speak to you but you do not reply; I visit but you do not visit me,” in Sharjah, UAE
This gigantic project started about 6 years ago in Sharjah. The words El Seed chose for the Sharjah wall are from a poem by 19th-century Iraqi poet and calligrapher Ahmed Bu Sneeda, who lived and worked for most of his life in Sharjah. The poem is a monologue with a loved one, in which the poet laments: “I speak to you but you do not reply; I visit but you do not visit me.”
3. “How can I forget the land of good? How can my heart find peace?”
El Seed’s art can be found in Algeria, more precisely on Didouche Mourad Street in Algiers. It reads: “How could I forget the land of good? How could my heart be in peace?”, a line from a song by popular Algerian singer Dahmane El Harrachi.
4. “As big as you dream the Earth expands,” in Zayed University, Dubai, UAE
What started as a simple lecture, ended up as a beautiful mural piece painted on the side of the gym’s university. It says: “As big as you dream the Earth expands”.
5. “Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly, needs to wipe his eyes first.”
This is one of El Seed’s most impressive and popular artworks. It covers 50 buildings with Arabic calligraphy in sunset shades in the Manshiyat Nasr neighborhood in Cairo, a marginalized, garbage collecting community. This viral project, “Perception”, revolves around a painted quote by Saint Athanasius, a Coptic Bishop of the 4th century, which reads, “Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly, needs to wipe his eyes first.”
Here’s some more of El Seed’s awe-inspiring work.
“A new revolution”
This graffiti is called “A new revolution”. It is a reference to the 11 January 2011 Tunisian revolution that started the “Arab Spring”.
This is one of the many graffitis you find in Djerba, Tunisia. Here, El Seed participates in a project called Djerbahood. One hundred and fifty street artists from 30 countries were invited to live and work in the community, for the purpose of creating an “open-air museum”.
6 walls 1st tunnel
This fresco can be found in the Qatari capital Doha, inside a 200m long tunnel. The piece is called “6 Walls 1st Tunnel”.
This one is also part of El Seed’s tunnel project in Doha and is called “The Golden Wall”.
Alya Kay contributed to this report.