Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Arabian Nights

Anila Quayyum Agha´s unique art transfigures places into magic spaces filled with mysterious beauty and resonance.

This is an invitation to take a ride on a magic carpet through time and space to land in the fascinating territory of the Arabian nights. Imagine the lace-like decorated Moorish palaces surrounded by beautiful patios set amidst orange scented gardens where water flows day and night, providing freshness and playing a never-ending melody that sounds like music coming out of a harp. Venture wandering through that romantic and enthralling scenery and you might just perceive the fleeting shadows of some figures among the vegetation and the colonnades. Magic is in the air and anything may happen.

Now dare one more step and cross the wide open doors leading on to inner patios surrounded by the most wonderful rooms and grandiose reception halls. Light filtered through richly elaborate lanterns projects on to floor and walls the most beautiful effects, which only add to the whole spell of the place. We are in Anila Quayyum Agha’s magic kingdom!

Born in Lahore, Pakistan, and living in the USA – firstly in Texas and then in Indiana – Anila Quayyum Agha is a celebrated artist working in a cross-disciplinary way with mixed media and exploring global politics, cultural multiplicity, mass media and other social and cultural issues, whose conceptual complexity may elude many viewers. We shall, therefore, only concentrate on the aesthetic aspect of her unique and truly awesome creations, which stir our imagination and take us to the very heart of her magic world.

Having produced several suspended installations made of cut paper letters from the English, Urdu and Hindi alphabets, Anila Agha achieved great success with her eye-catching creations. By casting ambiguous shadows on the walls around them, they deploy a whimsical atmosphere that is likely to trigger the imagination of spectators.

Anila Agha’s talent, however, seems to have reached a paramount level with her latest artwork. Under the name of “Intersections” – revealing her social and cultural objectives – she has created a huge elaborately carved cube meant to hang from the ceiling. Made from large panels of laser-cut wood, it was inspired by and it replicates the geometrical patterns of the famous Alhambra in Granada, Spain. An embedded light source creates kaleidoscopic shadows on the walls of the gallery where it is displayed, which prompt a variety of interpretations by viewers. In fact, this stunning artwork highly relies on the interaction of audiences with it, as well as with the space within which it is on exhibition and which is transformed by its very presence into something out of the “Arabian Nights” tales.

Exploring the presence of harmonies and ambiguities, of light and shadow, of public and private, of static and dynamic, this Anila Agha’s unique art piece actually casts a spell on all those who are lucky enough to come close to it, making them feel they have experienced the most fantastic journey across time and space, back into the magic era of the “Arabian Nights”.

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