EL Seed’s Calligraphy Art Promotes a Message of Peace

Some graffiti artists want their art to promote their persona or brand. Others are simply addicted to the thrill of writing on public walls. With graffiti artist, eL Seed, the goal is to spread messages of peace and unity while underlining the commonalities of human existence.

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Initiated by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and curated by @sultanthe1st , the phase 1 of my new artwork on the Riyadh Water Tower has just been completed. My team and I will be back in November to finish. I have chosen the words of one of the greatest Bedouin poets: Abdallah ad-Dindan. He was old, poor, and illiterate, yet he held a magnificent wealth of poetry inside his mind and he is one of the best examples of the treasured tradition of Arabian oral poetry. Ad-Dindan, who was of the Duwāsir tribe in the southern Najd region, chose the Bedouin lifestyle and he chose to place importance on the natural environment, living as a nomad and writing about the desert. His humble way of life embodies the true down-to-earth spirit of a Bedouin. My role as an artist is to change stereotypes, so, by focusing on this poet, I believe I will be highlighting a part of Saudi culture that is less celebrated. The specific poem I have chosen is a 27-verse plea for rain after a period of drought. It appears in an anthology written and edited by Marcel Kurpershoek called Oral Poetry and Narratives from Central Arabia and subtitled A Bedouin Bard in Southern Najd.  The book is a complete collection of oral poetry by ad-Dindan and this particular part shows his masterful use of language. Ad-Dindan speaks of the voice of rain and its sweetness as well as the importance of accepting God’s decree. The combination of these words, placed upon the prominent water tower, will highlight the importance of Bedouin values and lifestyle. Ad-Dindan's words would have been lost if it wasn't for Pr. Marcel Kurpershoek. He followed the poet for years, recorded his voice, and transcribed his texts. Today, the words of an illiterate man stand proud and unforgotten on one of the city's most monumental structures. #Dindan #Riyadh #oralpoetry #merciMarcel #backinNovember #MoC 📸 @mehdykhmili

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“As a kid, I was into hip hop culture,” he relayed in a candid interview with Art Radar. “Graffiti was the natural medium for me to express myself in an artistic way. It became more and more a case of [me finding my] identity and reconnecting with my Arabic roots.”

A mixture of graffiti art and Arabic calligraphy, his artwork can be found all across the globe, anywhere from the façade of L’Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris and the favelas of Rio di Janeiro to the DMZ in between North and South Korea and the heart of Cairo’s garbage collectors neighborhood.

Born in 1981 in Paris to Tunisian parents, he utilizes Arabic calligraphy as a way to build a bridge between his French and Tunisian backgrounds. “I mix graffiti, which is a ‘western’ medium (although I don’t like to use this term) and Arabic calligraphy, which is an ancient eastern way of expression,” he says. “I think that’s the power of calligraphy and art in general. [They] bring two worlds together and link them. That’s why I feel that my work speaks for me.”

Follow his thought-provoking work on Instagram.