Sunday, September 2, 2012

Islamic Reflection

Look at this wonderful thing and ponder upon the wonder that is M.C. Escher. This is a drawing based on the artist's direct sketch of tile designs in the Alahambra Palace in Spain. It is reflected (flip) repetition and basically encompasses all that I've had in mind for the past months (or has it been years now?)

This, on the other hand, is a picture of a repetitive and traditional interlinking Iznik tile mural in the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul which I haven't yet visited, much to my dismay. See how the stylized vegetal forms flow, and yet it's a very disciplined and controlled flow.

Bear with me a while. I am here trying my utmost to synthesize, linguistically, a personal obsession and all-encompassing love for what appears before me as a hint of the divine. It's a difficult task. The photo below is  of tiles for sale in Marrakech, tiles I did not purchase due to being generally over whelmed by a city I had long dreamt of visiting; and when the said city turns out to be even more beautiful than expected to be, this tends to have the general effect of 'stunning' one into a state of reverential gawping and irrational decision taking (ie. preferring 'a photo of' to an actual tile).


This is the central fountain surrounded by painstakingly laid 'zellij' mosaic tiles in the roofed courtyard of the Islamic Art Museum (Dar Menebhi Palace) of Marrakech ...

... and this is a beautiful combination of tile work and stone work in the Ben Youssef Medersa, (Islamic College) also in Marrakech

These photos, I hope, give a clearer indication of the build-up and the extent of my obsession with the geometry and symmetry of Islamic art and craft. I admire how the practical tile, which keeps a building cool and relatively dust free in hot and dry climes, is elevated to such an extent that within its four corners it becomes a metaphorical representation of the infinite. The intricate geometry, calligraphic ornamentation and 'arabesque' interlacing of stylized florals come together to serve the human and the divine in one fell swoop. This time-tested synthesis, ultimately, reflects the cultural preoccupation of a nation with the covering of surfaces. The structure of a building is emphasized through its covering much like the structure of a dress, or more generally 'dress', both covers yet complements the human form.

In any case, I made these hats out of stiff felt to: cover, flatter and complement. They are practical, foldable and carefully studied so as to cast some very dramatic shadows across the face. I will be making more in different colours in the coming weeks.

As a parting note, my new ceramic collection also bears a similar inspirational origin.. but more on that later when I manage to take some good photos of the glazed lot.

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