Dates: 6th-28th March 2014


Continuous screenings of 5 DVD films by Nacer Khemir. Exhibition of calligraphic works on canvas. Display of 19 of his printed books.

On the occasion of the Barzakh  Prize (for creative work inspired by Ibn Arabi), given this year to the internationally celebrated filmmaker and artist Nacer Khemir, Puertas de Castilla will present the exhibition The Sixty Names of Love, which integrates three central dimensions of the artist’s career: his books as an author and illustrator, his work as a plastic artist, and his production as  a film director and maker of documentaries.

Eskimos have sixty words to name snow. Arabs have sixty words to name love. If we know that the different words used to name love come from the dessert’s lexical, we can understand in a better way how close love and death are. When we lose the way of the soul’s extension immensity, we also lose life.

That lover who is in a state of desertification can’t have an access to his own source. Thus, words of love tell us about infatuation and abyss: Love as a complete vagrancy. In my film The Dove’s Lost Necklace, a student of calligraphy called Hasan is looking for the names of love.

This searching has become mine too; so that I have kept on making questions to those names everywhere. Those names, sometimes, can have eight different meanings. Under its veil of silence and oversight, an unexpected delicacy of love feelings is being outlined.

Asking them about their senses, I found myself repeating them, as the words dervishes chant while they shell the beads of their rosaries without ending. The necessity of dyeing came up with the calligraphy. As I didn’t have a rosary, I took my brush. Thus, the word chanted became calligraphy. The art of dyed calligraphy is in the memory of China, Japan, and Tibet as well as in the memory of the pre-Islamic Arabia, where tapestries filled with calligraphic poems made of golden letters used to hang around the Kaaba.

Interwoven with that dying, there are words and signs, repeated till infinity, and at the same time, desert and shroud, letanies modelled by the hand and droned by the heart.       


“Bab’ Aziz”, 96’, 2005; “The dove’s lost necklace”, 86’, 1991; “The wanderers of the desert”, 95’, 1984; “Sherezade”, 81’, 2011; “The alphabet of my mother”, 30’, 2008.