Follow us
Dalloul Art Foundation

SAMIR SAYEGH, Lebanon (1945)


Written by Yaacoub Roubai Known as an avant-garde calligrapher and a pioneer of Arab modernism, Samir Sayegh was born in 1945 in Beirut. After studying at the Saint Savior Convent in Joun,...

Written by Yaacoub Roubai

Known as an avant-garde calligrapher and a pioneer of Arab modernism, Samir Sayegh was born in 1945 in Beirut. After studying at the Saint Savior Convent in Joun, Lebanon, he pursued an art history degree at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. As a critic and historian, he wrote numerous publications on Arab contemporary art from 1970 to 1985. Since then, Sayegh has devoted himself to the development of Arabic calligraphy into a form of modern visual art, in line with the principles of Hurufiyyathat emerged among Arab and Arab-American artists during the second half of the twentieth century. A prolific writer and a poet, he is the author of several books on Sufi poetry and Islamic art. He additionally lectured in the architecture and design department at the American University of Beirut from 2003 to 2007.

Sayegh fell in love with calligraphy at age 12 and has worked to preserve it since the 1950s. He experimented with geometric, structural and abstract possibilities to liberate Arabic letters from traditional connotations and meaning-based restrictions, instead focusing purely on aesthetic properties. Influenced by the angularKufic scripts of early Qur’ans, he created a new set of typefaces by merging traditional calligraphy with contemporary design. 

To create his modern calligraphic masterpieces, Sayegh makes his own giant (up to 35cm) felt-wrapped pensto draw wide acrylic or ink lines on paper or fabric. This technique evokes Japanese and Chinese calligraphy, but Sayegh nevertheless adheres to the system of angles and proportions that has been practiced in the Arab world for many centuries. The result is strong, dynamic letters that are free from linguistic utilitarianism. The artist uses monochromatic colors and square edges so that each letter is deconstructed from its original form and unbound from semantic use. For Sayegh, the process of reading comes second to seeing.  

Sayegh lives and works in Beirut. 


Star, Sana Beirut, American University of Beirut. "The Art of Arabic Letters." YouTube. November 18, 2014. Accessed March 12, 2019.

Arni, Sophie Mayuko. "Abstract Calligraphy: Lebanese and Japanese Artists Meet." Global Art Daily, October 6, 2016.

Shaban| The Daily. "An Anatomy of the Written Letter." The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon. September 26, 2016. Accessed March 10, 2019.

Star, India Stoughton| The Daily. "The Triumph of Form over Content." The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon. May 14, 2014. Accessed March 8, 2019.


Selected Solo Exhibitions


Bin Mater House, Bahrain 


Samir Al Sayegh, Dar Al Funoon, Kuwait
Aleph In Many Letters, Bin Matar House Art Space, Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research, Bahrain


Samir Sayegh, Agial Art Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon


Agial Art Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon 


First Sharjah Biennale for Calligraphy, United Arab Emirates 


Agial Art Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon


Galerie Atassi, Damascus, Syria


Galerie 50 x 70, Beirut, Lebanon


Galerie 50 x 70, Beirut, Lebanon


Hariri Cultural Centre, Saida, Lebanon


Goethe Insitut, Tripoli


Kulturzentrum, Beirut, Lebanon


Galerie Elissar, Beirut, Lebanon

Selected Group Exhibitions


Out of Context, Saleh Barakat Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon


Millenia of Creativity, NABU Museum, El Heri, Lebanon
Opening Remarks, Athr Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Hurufiyya: Art & Identity, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE


Tariqah,Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE


Strokes In Dialogue, Athr Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Journey of the Line, Athr Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates


Contemporary Arab Art, British Museum, London, United Kingdom

Selective Executive Works

Applied Works

Moucharrabieh of Omari Mosque, Beirut, Lebanon
Ceiling of Assila showroom, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Calligraphy for Books and Magazines

Center of Orthodox Studies, Al Namus Al Sharif, 1992
History of Banks in Lebanon.
Mediterranean Affairs magazine, Shu’un Al Awssat, 1997
Oriental Arts magazine, “Funun Sharqiah” 

Selective Logos

Audi Institution, Saida, Lebanon
Soap Museum, Saida, Lebanon
Boutique Liwan, Paris, France 
Mena Jet, Arab Airline Company
Syndicate of Engineers, Beirut and Tripoli, Lebanon
Beiteddine 27thFestival, Lebanon
The South for Construction Company, Lebanon


Samir Sayegh. الحروف و الكلمات. Plan Bey, Beirut, 2016.
Samir Sayegh. ما بعد. Plan Bey, Beirut, 2016.
Samir Sayegh. ألف بحروف كثيرة. Beirut, 2014.
Samir Sayegh. مذكرات الحروف. Beirut, 2003.
Samir Sayegh. Saloua Raouda Choucair: Her Life and Art.Beirut, 2002.
Samir Sayegh, Contemporary Art in Syria, 1998.
Samir Sayegh, Islamic Art: A Reading Into its Philosophy & Aesthetic Characteristics, 1988.
Samir Sayegh. مقام القوس و أحوال السّهم. Beirut, 1980.


Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE
Atassi Foundation, Dubai, UAE
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon
The British Museum, London, UK