Tarek Elleissy: Visual Language

Dr. G. McIver
2 min readMar 19, 2021

It starts with a letter or a word, and moves onward from there. From one letter’s curve, whole worlds are created.

Tarek Elleissy makes intensely detailed finely-crafted drawings of lettering and intricate calligraphy, with a hint of graffiti tagging. Working with inks and watercolours on paper, Elleissy’s mesmerizing text art pieces are singular manifestations of the union of image and language. Words and letters that do not need to be read, simply appreciated for their sinuous beauty, coloured with the jewel-toned richness of fine rugs or tapestries.

between abstract and non-abstract

The artist worked and studied with the painter Nazir Tanbouli since he was an art student, starting out in Tanbouli’s Alexandria graffiti crew in 1997. He has been in close contact with historic manuscripts for the last fifteen years working at Alexandria Library. This has given him an appreciation for lettering and text as object. Elleissy’s approach to text art is deeply meditative, for both the artist making it and the viewer looking at it. The result is work that glides along its own unique path, somewhere between abstract and non-abstract.

The texts and letters are not meant to be read but are meant to be appreciated as objects in themselves. The fluid beauty of the endless curve, the geometric relationship of lines and spaces, and the hypnotic quality of the relationship of colour to shape, together make up a compelling experience for the viewer.

hypnotic geometry

The show is curated by the artist Ali Saed, the director of Alexandria Museum of Fine Art.


Originally published at http://theartraveller.com on March 19, 2021.