Zalâm ظلام is “darkness”, and extends to mean “ignorance”. But if read with a slight emphasis that doesn’t affect the spelling, zallâm ظلّم means: “absolutist, tyrant, dictator, a person advocating a totalitarian system, despotic, unjust”. Furthermore, once given a Kufi treatment, the word zalâm contained in its shapes the word diyâ’ ضياء , which is “light”.
The piece, then, is about the seed of light contained in the darkness. This is not a new idea: In the 5th century, Greek philosophers named enantiodromia the fact that anything that reaches its extreme turns into its opposite. Much earlier, the knowledge that opposite forces give birth to each other was symbolized by the Taijitu or “yin-yang symbol”.
The pattern made up of the word zalâm is debossed in the black background, barely visible, as it is written in shadow over darkness. Diyâ’ is painted in an interference medium, which is mostly transparent on its own but is revealed by light, and changes as the light changes. Ironically, in the end, the small areas of light have much more presence than the mass of darkness: it takes very little light to dispel the deepest gloom.
Acrylic and interference medium on paper