It is so exactly to mention him as a father of calligraphy art in Indonesia. Painting since 1960s Abdul Djalil Pirous – more known as AD Pirous – started to focus in calligraphy in 1970s. Until recently he is still consistent with his art choice.
Professor of Anthropology at UW-Madison, USA, Kenneth M George, says that AD Pirous is a pioneer in melding Western abstraction with traditional Islamic forms and themes, notably Qur’anic calligraphy, which portrays Qur’anic verses. “When he began to combine abstraction and Qur’anic calligraphy in 1970s, his influence quickly spread. He awakened fellow Muslims to contemporary painting, and helped them think of themselves as an art-producing community,” George says.
Pirous was born in Meulaboh, Nanggro Aceh Darussalam, in March 11, 1932. Beside an artist Pirous is also recognized as an academic scientist in visual art. For almost 40 years (1964-2002) Pirous was a lecturer at Visual Art and Design of Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB) and founder of Graphic Design Study Program which recently become Visual Communication Design Study Program.
As an artists and academic scientist, Pirous is able to create art works so expressive, beautiful and conceptual. Follow him an art work will be so powerful when it is not only aesthetic but also meaningful. An art work should present an identity that shows the cultural ideological background and conceptual thinking of the artist. In this context Pirous found Arabic calligraphy arts as medium of expression appropriately.
Pirous says that he was aware firstly about the necessary of identity in art work when he studied for a year in USA in 1969-1970. “In America I started to realize that in art working we need a strong self-identity,” he says. He often visited many modern art exhibition in New York and he found the power of self-identity of the artists. The self-identity may refers to certain ethnic, nation, and culture where the artists come from.
Ever, when visited a museum he was touched by Islamic traditional arts from Middle East countries in form calligraphy. This generated his memories when he was a child and lived in Aceh. In his kampong in Meulaboh city there are many ancient grave buildings consisting Arabic calligraphy. The memories disappear when Pirous has been adult and even when he become an artist. But in America he found his child memories and just realized the beauty of Arabic calligraphy. From the time Pirous started to explore calligraphy art in his works. Through Arabic calligraphy he builds the identity as an artist, Indonesian and Muslim.
Pirous’s calligraphy art work is very specific. The background presents a stiff and solid buiding or rock with dark and erupted colors. This make an impression about the ancient era. On the contrary the Arabic calligraphy which taken from Qur’an verses are expressed in light colors. Aesthetically it is so beautiful, but the more important meaning for Pirous is that the Arabic calligraphy has religious messages from an ancient period which is still relevant today and the future time.
During his career as an artist Pirous has held art exhibitions in many cities in Indonesia and abroad such as Europe, USA, Japan, Australia, and some countries in Asia. He also writes articles for seminars in Indonesia and abroad.