Muhammad Zaman is a visual artist who specializes in Arabic calligraphy. His works are predominantly acrylic or mixed media on canvas, wood, and paper. His technique transforms the written script of three languages--English, Bangla, and Arabic-- into a new script that is distinctly his own. It takes elements from each of these languages which have significant personal meaning for Zaman: Bangla is his first language as a native of Bangladesh, English is the language of his home in the U.S., and Arabic is the language of his religion, Islam. His script is deeply inspired by ancient calligraphic practices, and incorporates modern and urban techniques and influences.
In Zaman’s works, he layers words and full messages about peace, unity, and understanding. The colors he chooses tend to capture the tone and energy of his intended messages. Because of the nearly readable quality of his works, they have been described as a "scavenger hunt" wherein the viewer becomes an active participant in decoding or filling in the message. Thus, his works are simultaneously abstract, interactive, and conceptual. Zaman was influenced by the artist, eL Seed and his idea to create unity for people from varying backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions. Zaman’s artistic goal is to inspire people, and for them to share the same place and learn from each other in harmony and mutual understanding. Although his works contain characters from three different languages, there is always at least one recognizable word represented in each language. This sparks curiosity across audiences to decode the message, leading to a deeper connection with his art.
When reflecting on the beginning of his artistic career and his influences, Zaman states:
“I came to the USA when I was eleven years old. I went to the Islamic school, and there I learned the Arabic language. I was fascinated by the elegance of written Arabic. It wasn't easy for me to integrate myself as I was a shy kid, and paper and pen were my way to escape from solitude and a chance to create my own world. My family and I were living on the east side of Buffalo, and in that period, it was a difficult neighborhood. There were train cars, and I looked up to the graffiti as the unique color in the area. Very soon the graffiti began to be a source of inspiration for me, even if I never did illegal graffiti, I have to say they inspired me so much; they were not only beautiful but a bright sign in a very gray situation. As I grew up, I understood the reasons behind graffiti, so I thought to try with Islamic calligraphy. At the time the media was spreading a not-good image of Muslims, and this pushes me to try to do something good to give back to my community and to show to the rest of the world the positive side of a misunderstood culture. At the beginning, Hassan Masoudi was my inspiration, then with the internet, I had the chance to explore this world of art and culture I was so interested in. In this way, I found so many artists around the globe who were doing artworks similar to the concepts I had in mind. This is how I began to do calligraphy, then paintings. I started sharing with the people I love and my community and being part of the Buffalo art community. I'm thankful and almost surprised when I achieve something in the art world because I still am that shy weird kid with a pen and a notebook."
By 2012, Zaman started to do calligraphy at a professional level and pursue it as a career. He later started www.zamanarts.com; he is also part of www.commongroundsrtists.com which is an interfaith organization that promotes peace and allows diverse groups of people to come together for the arts. He has most recently joined Buffalo Arts Studio as a Resident Artist.
Zaman has created 7 public art murals and has exhibited all across the U.S. and several international locations. His work has also been included in a multitude of private collections in Paris, Lisbon, NYC, Buffalo, among others.
For more information on Zaman and his work, you can visit his website.