Points of Perception is Faig Ahmed’s first solo exhibition in a museum. The artist created all works specifically for the space at MACRO Mattatoio and carefully studied its architecture for their placement. Sufism is the common thread that unites an ambitious project consisting of monumental installations, individual works and videos. Through the form of a mystical quest the artist creates a relationship between consciousness and all that exists outside of it. Art is a tool to expand the senses and the artist is the vehicle for sharing it. Experimenting with different techniques and connecting them to mystical practices, Ahmed finds a unique answer to the question concerning the perception of truth. Art is a discipline without boundaries and is necessary to understand the history of human beings, of their paths climbed toward the narrow border between consciousness and perception. Between mysticism and reality.
Paradoxically, the artist uses Sufi asceticism to interpret reality in its most concrete aspects. His approach is markedly laic when he tampers with the traditional techniques of carpet production for art objects that seem to be projected into the future — thanks to a daring and futuristic aesthetic. At the same time, their execution remains faithful to ancient methods. According to Ahmed, art is an excellent passepartout to connect past and present, tradition and modernity. Art’s nature and techniques have no boundaries, and all that is within and outside of perception can be interpreted through its infinite languages.
The artist is an active explorer who, like a shaman, connects mind and body. His works share messages that raise questions and solicit wonder and awe. The aesthetic aspect plays an important role only if combined with the process that has developed it and made it possible. Curated by Claudio Libero Pisano, the exhibition Points of Perception consists of numerous works and installations, including the carpets, which are a consolidated feature in the poetics of the artist, objects in which we tend to get lost, where the sign is continuously moved, pixellated, liquefied. At the center of the exhibition hall a monumental installation creates a kind of wave with the floor fabric of a mosque that defies the laws of physics and overwhelms the viewer. Several videos document the project and the poetics of Faig Ahmed. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with Montoro12 Contemporary Art gallery.
Faig Ahmed (b. 1982) is an internationally recognised artist from Baku, Azerbaijan, who represented Azerbaijan at the Venice Biennale in 2007. He is well known for his conceptual works that utilize traditional decorative craft and the visual language of carpets into contemporary sculptural works of art. His works reimagine ancient crafts and create new visual boundaries by deconstructing traditions and stereotypes. Ahmed is among a new wave of contemporary artists exploring crafts in innovative ways to produce conceptual works that break away from conventions associated with the craft by bringing it into an art historical context. Ahmed explores fresh new visual forms that examine tradition and challenge our perception of traditions through iconic cultural objects. The artist experiments with traditional materials and colors such as the rug weavings in Azerbaijan or Indian embroidery, yet he explains that “he is not interested in merging the past and present,” but is interested “in the past because it’s the most stable conception of our lives.”
The artist’s deep interests and avenues of personal inquiry are connected to world religions, mystical practices, ancient scripture, calligraphy and patterns. In the introduction to his solo major European show, “Points of Perception” at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma, the curator for the exhibition, Claudio Libaro Pisano states that the artist “ deals with the question concerning the perception of truth” and creation of “.” He describes Ahmed’s aesthetic as “daring and futuristic”, and yet “faithful to ancient methods.” Ahmed’s artworks engage the viewers through it’s unexpected marriage of traditional crafts, steeped in history, with hyper-contemporary, digitally distorted images often in the form of pixilation, three-dimensional shapes and melting paint that alters the pattern on the rugs. He employs computers to sketch his works and chooses intricate traditional methods of carpet-weaving techniques to printing his designs on carpets. In his work “Oiling” 2012, in the collection of Seattle Art Museum, his hand-woven carpet designs transform and appear as though the pigments in the rug are melting into a wavy pattern of oil on water.
Linda Komaroff, Curator of Islamic Art and Head of Middle Eastern Art, at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art wrote: “Although Faig Ahmed works in other mediums–painting, video and installation, he is best known for his fantastical woven pieces based on the classical Azerbaijani carpet, which is a cornerstone of the artist’s cultural heritage…Today, Ahmed carries on this artistic tradition but not with ink and paper; instead, he remakes his carpet designs on a computer, generating optical illusions that transform the finished work into something entirely contemporary, which can express a three-dimensional or even kinetic quality.” Ahmed’s works in broad range of mediums including his intricate installation “Embroidery Space” 2012, made of silk threads, installation “Disassembled” 2013, made of handmade wool carpet and mixed media, and the work “Birds” 2011, in mixed media, show the artist’s contemporary concepts visualized in various mediums.
Faig Ahmed graduated from the sculpture department of Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in 2004. He represented Azerbaijan at the nation’s inaugural pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and participated in the show “Love Me, Love Me Not” in 2013. Ahmed has exhibited his works worldwide including group and solo exhibitions in New York, Paris, London, Berlin, Dubai, Moscow and the UAE. In 2013, the artist was nominated for the Jameel Prize 3 at Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His works are in public collections including Los Angeles County Museum and Seattle Art Museum, and in private collections such as West Collection, Philadelphia, the collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody, New York City, Galila’ Collection, Brussels, Ranza collection, Rome, Jameel Foundation, London and H.H. Sh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, UAE. In 2016, Ahmed’s works will be exhibited in several museums in United States including Museum of Fine Art Boston, Bellevue Art Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, and Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.