The use of Arabic letters and calligraphy in contemporary Arab paintings and sculptures began in the early 1950s with the beginning of the modern Arab art movement. In fact, it became a common practice for many Arab artists to have experimented with these traditional motifs, each of them with their own signature style. Hammad's approach was quite different from most. Rather than attempting to treat the characters in a clear, readable way, his style instead developed into a more mysterious way of rendering the words, expressing their messages through his highly abstracted compositions.
This present lot title reads in Arabic 'Abjad Hawaz' which is the very beginning of a fuller continuous phrase taught to children in rhythmic repetition at a very early age to initiate them to the Arabic alphabet. At the turn of the 20th century Syria, boys attended 'the Katatib' (an educational circle, run by the Imam of a mosque), who taught them how to read, write and recite the Qur'an, as well as calculate.
Hammad is celebrating the new form of art baptized as 'Letterism' and its introduction is attributed to him in Syria, as well as paying tribute to his first Imam by remembering this sentence, still chanted today with young children.