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A master from Azerbaijan creates carpets, combining centuries-old traditions with elements of surrealism: Faig Ahmed
A master from Azerbaijan creates carpets, combining centuries-old traditions with elements of surrealism: Faig Ahmed

The fashion for traditional carpets in interiors has gradually faded into the past. This once prestigious attribute of Soviet-era household items has come off the walls of apartments and has long migrated to the floor, turning from an object of wealth into a residual element of a bygone era. However, thanks to Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed, these objects familiar to everyone have been reborn into ultra-modern objects of carpet weaving art. And already today, the creative research of the master is mastering the three-dimensional space in leading galleries and exhibition halls around the world, bringing good royalties to their creator.

From time immemorial, woven carpets have been used by different peoples as amulets, in which they encrypted mysterious knowledge and messages through various symbols. The general composition of traditional carpets, usually built on an equilateral cross, was often used by both shamans and sorcerers. The mirror symmetry in the patterns of the carpets was also no coincidence.

Faig Ahmed magic carpets

It was this phenomenon that attracted the Baku artist Faig Ahmed, who is interested in mysticism. And if we consider that the carpet is one of the symbols of Azerbaijan, its reflection of history, then the carpets, according to the artist, store not only ancient knowledge, but they can also be perceived as the “code of society”.

Carpet from the Liquid series. Author: Faig Ahmed

The thing is that the ancient masters weaved carpets, relying on the tastes and symbols characteristic of a certain geographical area and the nationality of a particular nomadic tribe. In addition, not only the geographical aspect, but also any religious or political changes have long left their mark on carpet weaving, although their basis remained unshakable.

Faig Ahmed magic carpets

I am not an artist, I am a researcher

Faig Ahmed (1982) lives and works in Baku, Azerbaijan. At one time, he graduated from the sculpture faculty of the Azerbaijan State Academy of Arts in 2004.

Ahmed received his first experience of creative research in early childhood, when as a young boy, wanting to change the pattern of the carpet, he cut a family heirloom. The second time was when I was a university student. He stole several rolls of fabric from the fashion department and draped it over the facade of the five-story academy building. After this incident, he was expelled from the academy, although he was later reinstated. And now his unusual works, similar to visual manipulation, can be seen at exhibitions in the UK, Germany, Italy, China, Russia, USA, France and other countries.

Baku artist Faig Ahmed

Experts call his work differently: “psychedelic carpets”, “digital fantasies on the theme of oriental carpets”, “3D weaving”, they also compare it with “optical illusion” and surrealism, and sometimes refer to glitch art and pixel art. And all because Ahmed makes his carpets look like pictures of a psychologist or surrealist canvases: everyone sees something of their own in them. It is not for nothing that the public around the world is indescribable delight, looking at his work.

Faig Ahmed magic carpets

However, having first conceived to change the perception of carpets in the minds of people, Faig faced considerable problems.In order to combine traditional patterns with his “bugs” patterns, the artist decided to turn directly to those who are fluent in the technique of creating carpets - weavers, and faced a wall of misunderstanding. Professionals, accustomed to traditional forms, flatly refused to cooperate with the innovative artist, whose projects were called, to put it mildly, blasphemous. After all, according to the idea of ​​Faig Ahmed, old carpets had to be cut into pieces, reshaped and literally disassembled by threads, and then assembled into patterns developed by the artist.

Carpet from the Liquid series. Author: Faig Ahmed

Fortunately for Ahmed, one master nevertheless agreed to weave his digital patterns as an experiment, but on condition that his name remains a secret. The result exceeded all expectations, and over time the process improved. Several more weavers joined the work. And to make the work more productive, the artist began to create detailed sketches of projects on a computer, transfer them to engineering paper, and then send into production the exact scheme that workers should follow.

Carpet from the Liquid series. Author: Faig Ahmed

It should be noted that Faig initially used ready-made products for his creativity, among which there were also carpets woven more than a century ago. Of course, a master living in a country of developed carpet weaving had the opportunity to conduct any experiments on various carpet products that could both tell a story and serve as the basis for new art objects.

Carpet from the Liquid series. Author: Faig Ahmed

Reincarnation technique

He cuts them, reshapes, completes - or rather, rejuvenates and adapts to the culture of the XXI century. The oldest carpet that fell under the scissors of the master was a 150-year-old specimen found in Karabakh in the possession of an Azerbaijani woman and keeping an interesting romantic history. As a young woman, she ran away from her parental home with her lover. And since the whole family was against her wedding with the chosen one, the girl was supported only by her grandmother, who presented the very carpet as a dowry.

"Recycled". Author: Faig Ahmed

The owner refused to sell the memorable thing for a long time even at a very high price, but agreed when she found out that the buyer was an artist. Working on this ancient exhibit, the artist did not dare to cut it with his own hands for a long time, and as a result entrusted it to his assistants. As a result, Faig made a work out of it called “Recycled”, symbolizing recycling. As a sign of respect, the artist placed a woman's story next to a modified carpet in a contemporary art textile exhibition.

Pixel rug. Author: Faig Ahmed

“People might think that I am in the business of destroying our national symbol. In fact, I breathe new life using old drawings and elements,”says Ahmed. He also considers himself more of a researcher than an artist. In his opinion, an artist is one who expresses his own ideas and views in his works. For a researcher, the creative process itself is much more important, and then the result.

Carpet from the Liquid series. Author: Faig Ahmed

However, the designer created some carpets, as they say, “from scratch”. Generating ideas, making dozens of sketches on a computer and translating them into engineering paper, he gives the key option to weavers who make carpets using the same technology as 300 years ago. Wool and natural dyes are used as materials.

Notice how objects from the Liquid series, spreading over the surface, evoke associations with the melting objects of Salvador Dali. Not really impressive.

Faig Ahmed magic carpets

From one to five people work on each object, and the actual implementation of an artistic project can take from 3 months to several years. Faig personally participates in the creation of carpets: due to the specifics of manual labor, some issues sometimes have to be resolved in the weaving process.

Faig Ahmed magic carpets

Faig says that the digital age is not so far from the world of our ancestors, because on the computer you can recreate any traditional pattern, and on the carpet - pixels. The master has several works in which an ordinary drawing smoothly turns into a pixel one, as if revealing the history of his digital creation.It is also worth noting that in this way, in addition to Azerbaijani carpets, the artist works with Iranian, Indian and Central Asian carpets.

Faig Ahmed magic carpets

Faig Ahmed has had many exhibitions, including personal ones, in galleries in different cities of the world, from Paris and London to New York. His work is in museum collections, such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Seattle Museum of Art, and numerous private collections. Faig first represented Azerbaijan at the Venice Biennale in 2007, and in 2013 the artist entered the final three nominees for the prize of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Faig Ahmed magic carpets

P.S. Persian carpets on paintings by Jason Seyfi

Persian carpets on paintings by Jason Seyfi

Curiously, when some masters transfer the art of weaving to the rank of modern carpet weaving, while others transfer traditional Persian carpets to the picturesque plane, using canvas and paints. One of these is Jason Seife, a young artist from Miami, who has chosen an unusual theme for his painting - Persian carpets. Yes, yes, Jason Seyfi presents ancient weaving art in a picturesque interpretation. He recreates the intricate patterns of antique floor and wall coverings using a mixed technique of acrylics and gouache.

In the artist's studio. Persian carpets on paintings by Jason Seyfi

In his paintings, the artist uses traditional design, including floral and geometric patterns, their symmetry, as well as symbolism. Jason Seyfi's works are also widely known to the international art community. They were exhibited at various international exhibitions, included in the exposition of the Brooklyn Museum. Fans of the artist's work follow the new additions to the collection on Jason's Instagram page.

Persian carpet depicted in paints. Posted by Jason Seyfi

Curiously, the fashion for painted carpets was widespread in Russia almost a century ago. This is what our publication is about: Why the masterpieces of a naive artist ended up in the barn and how "heavenly carpets" found their place in museums: Alena Kish.

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