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Artist of the Day | Faig Ahmed

Faig Ahmed



Carpets on metal stucture

8500 × 15000 × 20000 cm


Faig Ahmed is an internationally recognized 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 (Baku, 1982) lives and works in Baku, Azerbaijan and 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 in the United States, including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, Palm Springs Museum of Art, RISD Museum, Chrysler Museum of Art; Bargoin Museum, France; The National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; as well as private collections such as the West Collection, Philadelphia; the collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody, New York City; Galila Barzilaï-Hollander’s collection, Brussels; and the private collection of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa al-Nahyan, United Arab Emirates, among others.

Mr. Ahmed’s works have been recently exhibited in several museum group shows all over the United States, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Bellevue Arts Museum, Washington; the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; and Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design; as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (MACRO), the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania and the Textile Museum of Sweden, Borås.

Artist Statement

I explore ancient traditions, cults and cultures, I make my own research and as I communicate with it, I create art. My carpets, installations and embroideries are the result of this interplay. It is fascinating to observe the process of such an easy transformation of such ancient and stable objects.I am in love with textile. Because fabrics are objects that humanity is using from the beginning of times, till nowadays. Another thing that interests me is pattern. Patterns and ornaments can be found in all cultures, sometimes similar, sometimes very different. I consider them words and phrases that can be read and translated to a language we understand.My art is an experiment. I want to examine the subject matter to see how deep can we go inside something accomplished and holistic and to observe the influence this kind of a change can have on people. What influences and inspires me the most are all kinds of travel. By saying travel I mean either physical travelling to other countries where I can find and explore traditions and cults spread on this certain territory; or travelling in my subconsciousness, different practices and meditations. And there is something I believe: If you want to change the world, start with yourself.

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