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Meem Two

© The Estate of Anwar Jalal Shemza. All rights reserved, DACS 2024. Image credit: Tate

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Shemza started the Meem series in 1967 as part of an ongoing exploration of calligraphic abstraction. In these works Shemza reconfigures the Arabic letter ‘Meem’ into powerful variations displaying great symmetry and rhythm. The ‘Meem’ refers to the initial letter of the prophet Mohammad so has a religious reference, but as the initial of his wife Mary’s first name, it has emotional significance. At the back of one of his notebooks, Shemza expresses: ‘My work is based on the simplification of three dimensional solid, architectural reality of the decorative element of calligraphy… Calligraphy which gives means to convey your feelings and also produce some aesthetic response.’

Tate Britain



Meem Two




oil on canvas


H 91.5 x W 91.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Purchased 2012

Work type



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Tate Britain

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