When the Cuadro Gallery write-up on Faig Ahmed’s solo exhibition ‘Fluid Forms’ popped into my inbox, I was a bit puzzled by the photo of the carpet included in the press release. That’s because my eyes were trying to adjust to the carpet’s design, starting from the top in a traditional manner, and then suddenly unravelling in a pool of chaos at the bottom of the photo.
So, when I visited the gallery on the opening night of the 15th of September, 2014, my suspicions were confirmed. The combination of the conventional with the modern was a deliberate act. You see, our eyes get used to seeing things in a certain way and then artists such as Faig Ahmed come into our lives. They either assist in questioning the way we view things or attempt to distort our thought systems completely by challenging the visual senses beyond the norm. After viewing the carpets, I will always look at carpets differently.
I quote what Cuadro Gallery said, because it captures exactly what I would have wanted to say.
Faig Ahmed stretches traditional threads farther in his continued reinvention of the conventional Middle Eastern carpet. The artist uses the most basic component of a deconstructed rug, woolen threads and arabesque patterns to elasticize our perception of the cultural icon…Ahmed’s works include hand-woven rugs encompassed in sculptural arms that extend out of thread into neon geometric forms. The artist’s signature optical illusions strength beyond the carpet frame – a conventional rug dissembles midway, bleeding onto the floor in a meticulously woven pool of melting threads.
Enough said, don’t you think?
Now, I didn’t get to speak to the artist personally but I noticed the Azerbaijani artist with no airs and graces. He stood quietly with a gentle smile lighting up his face while the visitors clicked away (see below). You must know that, despite his humble stance, he was shortlisted for the Jamel Art Prize in 2013 at the Victoria and Albert Museum (I had written a couple of blog stories about the Jameel Art Prize at a different time, titled the Jameel Art Prize 2011 and Islamic art at Jameel Gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum). He also represented Azerbaijan at the country’s inaugural pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and again in 2013. This year, he was selected to do a residency at the Cuadro gallery, a three month program which allowed him to create these spectacular carpets.
In answer to my question about the SHIFT installation below, Faig Ahmed said, “Hospitality has always been a main symbol of our region. And the role of the main icon has always been played by carpet. The embroidery that I have used on the top of the sculpture is an ancient tradition in Azerbaijan that has been forgotten. There are only couple of people who still do tekelduz (one hand made embroidery) in Azerbaijan and I have met them and made this collaboration together with them. I have brought this beautiful old dyeing tradition into the new world, taking it from a flat surface to 3D and to survive in this contemporary world embroidery had to transform by becoming aggressive and it did.”
The exhibition runs till the 30th of November, 2014. Plenty of time for me to pop by and get lost into the world of handmade woolen carpets once again.
More details here on the Faig Ahmed ‘Fluid Forms‘ exhibition at Cuadro Gallery, Dubai