Veeda Ahmed’s solo exhibition Echoes of Contemplation has opened at The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in Shoreditch. Contemporary artist Veeda’s new body of work is the culmination of many years of studying traditional Indian and Persian miniature techniques, as well as Western painting.
Interested in exploring the place of spirituality and mysticism in the modern world through these traditional techniques, the exhibition is a playful, gently thought-provoking study of different techniques and styles, and includes some delightful individual pieces.
Many of the paintings are visual representations of the Indian, Arabic and Persian philosophical works of Al-Ghazali, Ghalib, Rabindranath Tagore, Syed Hossein Nasr, excerpts of which are displayed alongside the paintings. One such quote from the 12th century Sufi teacher and philosopher Ibn ‘Arabi alludes to concepts of sacred geometry that underpin traditional Islamic art:
“I do not mean by beauty of form such beauty as that of animals or pictures… understand me to mean straight lines and circles, and the plane or solid figures which are formed out of them, for these I affirm to be not only relatively beautiful, like other things but they are eternally and absolutely beautiful. He by himself is like a point in a circumference and what lies between them. That point is God and the space beyond the circumference is non-being, what lies between is the possible”
The most striking pieces in the exhibition are those which feature the siyah qalam (black pen) and neem rang (half-colour) styles. Developed in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, siyah qalam refers to pen and ink drawings, which are almost practice sketches or under-drawings, finished so that they stand on their own. Neem rang (half-painted) paintings are softly shaded with sharp bursts of colour.
Whilst many of Veeda’s works allude to the eastern traditions, there are some paintings that are clearly influenced by Western techniques. A Day in the Park (pictured below) was inspired by a walk through her local park and, Veeda says, “simply being immersed in the present”. Representing a park from present day England in the traditional Kangra style seen in eighteenth century Indian miniature painting, is intended create a surreal sense of time and space.
Veeda has studied the art of painting in Lahore, Istanbul, Oxford and London. Whilst living in London she was inspired by the British Museum’s collection of Persian, Mughal, Pahari drawings and paintings to understand the artistic techniques behind these centuries old paintings. She wanted to understand colour symbolism, perspective, as well as the historical context within which the paintings were made. It was then that she enrolled at The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts (where she now sometimes teaches), and under the tutelage of the esteemed masters Keith Critchlow and Ajay Sharma, learned the esoteric art of Indo-Persian miniature painting.
When: Wednesday 11 – Friday 20 October 2017
Where: The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, 19-22 Charlotte Road, London, EC2A 3SG
More info: Prince’s School of Traditional Arts
By Farida Mohamedali.
Posted on 17 October 2017
Images courtesy Veeda Ahmed