Offering the viewer a more devotional experience, Nasser Al Salem’s God Is Alive, He Shall Not Die (2012) is an exploration of the infinite and humanity’s incapacity to conceive it. Contemplating the infinite nature of God, the work is a reminder of the omnipresence and omnipotence of the Creator, and the word repetition projected as an act of Dhikr (remembrance). The word Allah, meaning God, is amplified in neon between a regular mirror and a one-way mirror that creates the infinity mirror effect, an optical illusion of a long tunnel of projection that recedes endlessly into an infinite distance. This achieves the devotional and spiritual sensation that the artist wishes to have upon viewers: a reminder of human mortality and the everlasting immortality of God.
Nasser AlSalem (b. 1984) is first and foremost a calligrapher; his work is the Arabic written word. His practice pushes the boundaries of this age-old Islamic art using unconventional mixed-media forms to expand its conceptual potential. Although AlSalem’s training has been traditional – as he has obtained his Ijaza, the ultimate certification for an Islamic calligrapher – he pays attention to the concept of the word by means other than mere inscription. His architectural background has allowed him to develop a unique tripartite approach to calligraphy: the word, the medium, and the aesthetic.
AlSalem’s work is in the collections of The British Museum, London; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Solo shows include Desert X AlUla, Alula (2020); Amma Baad, at the Delfina Foundation, London (2019); and at Casa Arabe, Madrid (2019); and group exhibitions Al Burda, Abu Dhabi (2019); Nomadic Traces: The Journey of Arabian Scripts, Warehouse 421, Abu Dhabi (2019); and Ekphrasis, Writing in Art, Villa Empain, Brussels (2019).
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