Ahmed Moustafa integrates his inner experiences with experiences of external reality, with a masterly fusion of classical European painting techniques and the exacting discipline of Islamic calligraphy.
This rich visual vocabulary provided by this innovative interpenetration and synthesis of two contrasting traditions at once lends Ahmed Moustafa’s work a universal appeal. Ahmed’s work is a very personalised style and is always accompanied by concentrated and profound scholarly study. The artist’s style is as unique as his personality, and its achievement can be considered as the representation of the individual's self-cultivation.
While much of his work is derived from sacred Qur'anic texts and is the embodiment of his own deep Islamic faith, the startling visual impact of his scriptorial palettes, which go far beyond decorative inscriptions, makes them immediately accessible as numinous images, irrespective of whether the texts can be read or not. On seeing this art for the first time, many people who cannot read Arabic, and who know little or nothing about Islam or Islamic art, are immediately touched by it on some level. The significance of the pen – and its ability to provide all of humanity with a glimpse of the Divine – stems from the essence of Islam as a continuous, eternal religion: the very first Qur’anic instruction to the Prophet Muhammad was: "Recite in the name of thy Lord ... Who has taught by the pen..." (Surah 96, al-A'laq, 1-4).
Calligraphy and Arabic script were developed as a great art upon firm principles and through his works Ahmed Moustafa has demonstrated that he is an exemplar of certain characteristics that encompass perception and belief and harmonise philosophy and eternal truths. His life-long pursuit of the Divine Perfection is reflected in his wonderful understanding of shapes, numbers and geometry in the cosmos: in his explanation of a single character, which is the fundamental element in calligraphic writing or painting, there is always a head, body and tail. The characters of calligraphic script also are interrelated with relationships of position, direction and interval. With its power to preserve knowledge and extend thought over time and space, the ink of the artist can be compared to the water of life that gives immortality, while the human being is like the pen. In his own words, "Western art deals with the casual, rather than what I call the immutable essence. As Michelangelo said, ‘Good painting is nothing but a copy of the Perfection of God’."
1980 Islamic Cultural Centre, London
(Inauguration of the Exhibition Hall)
One man exposition
1983 Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
One man exposition
Biennale, Grand Palais, Paris
Exhibition of Tapestries - group exposition
1984 Al ‘Ain University, United Arab Emirates
1985 Salon des Artistes Francais, Grand Palais, Paris
Small selection of tapestries
1985 Palais des Congres, Montreux, Switzerland
"Les chefs d’ouvre d’Aubusson" - 50 Years of Contemporary Tapestries
1985 Musee Rath, Geneva
Treasures of Islam - Single tapestry (considered to be the only piece of contemporary Islamic art exhibited)
1990 Royal College of Art London – Henry Moore Gallery
"The Artistry of Arabic Script in the work of Ahmed Moustafa"
Major exhibition of tapestries, oil paintings, water colours, silk-screen prints and stained glass
Retrospective Exhibition 1 August – 29 October
1993 Manchester City Art Galleries
"An Alchemy of Letters – The Art of the Pen by Ahmed Moustafa"
24 July – 24 October
1995 Barbican Concourse Gallery, London
‘Signs, Traces and Calligraphy’ representing Egypt in a Group Show
part of "AFRICA ‘95' Arts Programme.
19 September to 30th October 1995
1995/6 Royal Tropical Museum, KIT, Amsterdam
"Signs, Traces and Calligraphy" representing Egypt in a Group Show
part of "AFRICA 95" Arts Programme
12 October – 31 January 1996.
1997 Accademia D’Egitto, Roma
"Calligrafia: La Geometria sacra dell’arte islamica"
March - April 1997
1997 Royal commission - in recognition of his international renown in the field of Islamic art, and his special position as an Egyptian/British artist based in England, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II presented his major composition entitled "Where the Two Oceans Meet" as a royal gift to the nation of Pakistan to mark the occasion of Pakistan’s fiftieth anniversary.
1998 Invited by the Vatican to stage a retrospective exhibition entitled "Where the Two Oceans Meet" of his work at the Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, which was acclaimed world wide as the first and most significant cultural event of its kind through out the history of Christian-Islamic relations.
30 March - 2nd May 1998
1998 Exhibition "Where the Two Oceans Meet" initiated by President Alija Izetbegovic at the National Gallery, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
26 August - 26 September
1999 Exhibition "Where the Two Oceans Meet" staged at Museu Diocesà
5 May - 31 May - Barcelona, at the invitation of the Catalan Institute for Mediteranian Studies.
2004 Group exhibition "Mightier Than The Sword", Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia.
2004/5 UK touring exhibition "Mapping The Unseen", finishing April 2005. Galleries include - St Mungo Museum of Religioud Life and Art, Glasgow; Catmose Gallery, Rutland; University of Herfordshire Galleries, Hatfield; Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford.
2004/5 Group exhibition "Five Artists * Five Faiths", Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina, USA.
2006 Group exhibition "Word Into Art: Artists Of The Modern Middle East", British Museum, London.
2008 Exhibition "Seeking An Immutable Essence", Mathaf Gallery, London.