I stumbled across KagrArt on Google Maps while I was on my way to South Beach in Calicut. The remarkable interiors of the place intrigued me so I had to drop by. I soon understood that this is a space you’ll come to know when a friend recommends it to you, but not necessarily in a travel guide.
Located in what was historically called ‘the city of truth’ aka South Beach, KagrArt is an intimate space that promotes calligraphy and allied art forms. The well-known calligrapher KareemGraphy is the brainchild behind this culture and art space. He is a self-taught artist and designer currently based in Doha. He shuttles between Doha and Calicut very often to promote his art. It was Abdul Kareem’s long-standing dream to build an art hub to promote and create a space for Arabic calligraphy.
One of the unique aspects of the place is that the design elements are inspired by local and global Muslim cultural heritage. Most of the artefacts that you see within the space are souvenirs collected by Kareem from his worldly travels, especially from Turkey and Morocco. He wanted a recreational space that spoke of his spiritual experience during his travels in Istanbul and other countries.
Fejin Ali, the design visionary of KagrArt, created the space in a visually immersive manner, right from the colours to the smell. According to him, “KagrArt studio is a spatial art that merges various design elements forming a unique, yet beautiful piece of art of itself. I personally prefer calling KagrArt a piece of art done in a three-dimensional canvas”
The space is just five months old, yet it has attracted many people from across ages to experience it.
Azeez, the curator of KagrArt, shared, “Apart from hosting master sessions by well-known calligraphers, we even have a space for promoting cultural events. Art exhibitions, script-writing workshops, art and craft workshops, talks, and book launches are a part of the experience we provide. If you are an artist, you can approach KagrArt to promote your work or host activities by renting the space. Depending on the occasion, you will be charged INR 3000-4000 to rent the space.”
KagrArt is not too hard to find. It’s right before Gujarathi street in a small alley. Not only has Kareem built a collaborative space for like-minded artists to share their art and stories, but he has also enabled the growth and spread of calligraphy in its right form.