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Amina Ahmed, a born artist

By Komal Gupta | PUBLISHED: 28, Jan 2011, 17:55 pm IST | UPDATED: 29, Jan 2011, 18:14 pm IST

Amina Ahmed, a born artist

Mesmerized by the lines and shapes, the patterns and rhythms, the repetitions, the obsessions, artist Amina Ahmed just loves to draw. She calls her work as a path to enter a universe that is attuned to the symbolic and ritualistic meaning, necessity perhaps, of ‘making marks.’

A woman in her forties, Amina Ahmed’s aura cannot be ignored. Her eyes lit up when she talks about her inspiration. The ‘Rhythm’ she says, ‘is pulse’. The entire body of work, one could note, is about the capting and the revelation, of this pulse.

Born as a Kutchi Turk Indian in Africa, she has travelled a lot in her life. Her childhood was spent in England, had once gone to Iran and is presently living in America. Despite witnessing various socio-cultural backgrounds, Amina still believes in the divine connectivity of all creatures.

Her work symbolizes the ‘divine’. “The journey to God begins with the awakening to the concept that the phenomenal world is a veil which conceals the Divine. We begin the Quest by removing the veil, only to become aware that the veil and the Divine is one and the same thing. The veil is the theophany itself: the manifestation of the Divine through Its Names and Qualities. When we see the veil, we are seeing nothing but the Divine”, she explains.

She can be called a born artist as she started painting at a very early age. Generally people see and admire the art work and forget about the process involved to make that work possible. In Amina’s case, the traces and the importance given to the process are present, privileged, and alive in the finished work.

A graduate from Winchester School of Art and the Chelsea School of Art, she received her MFA from the Royal College of Art (1991), where she specialized in Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts under the guidance of Prof. Keith Critchlow & Paul Marchant. During her two years at the RCA Amina received a bursary & upon graduating was awarded the Barakat trust prize.

Technically ambitious, visually powerful, challenging and moving, Amina Ahmed’s work opens an understanding of a new world; a reminder to allow the processes of artistic creation to lead to joyful connections and life-affirming ritual.

So here are some sentiments that the artist shared with Facenfacts when she exhibited her latest work ‘The Language of the Birds’ during the India Art Summit:

•    How long have you been painting?
Oh I actually don’t remember. I think I’ve always done it, since I’ve been five, six, seven…

•    How does it feel when you finish your work?
I never feel like finishing my work. As soon as I have finished a series of works and found a solution, I feel like I’ve just begun. It’s like as soon as I get to an end, I want to look again.

•    What is this ‘Mark Making’?
Everything which I draw is actually I am making ‘the marks’. The process includes repetition, rhythms and the fluidity of similar actions which is essential in bringing about the work. The rapprochement is not done in a superfluous manner, but goes to the heart of capturing the world through a framework—a sign system of sorts—and the rituals associated with the creation of those partitions/compositions the grammar of musical notes, for example, or the systems of an alphabetical language. I admire musicians and the marks they make, their marks turn into sounds .When I look at something, I listen to the sounds it makes and I draw the sounds that I hear. The mark that I’m making is the sound that I’m listening to.

•    What kind of marks are you making then?
Repetitious marks. Through them I try to connect one end to the other, the center to the outside, the outside to the center, and so on… Ultimately, a Sufi-like thirst for connection, the desire and ability to see and reveal the connections—while knowing full well that so much more remains invisible.

•    Are you fascinated with geometry because you are fascinated with repetition? Are you more into repetition than geometry?
I’m interested in rhythm.

•    What is it about rhythm that’s so fascinating and intriguing to you?
There’s rhythm in everything. And this is where the connection is made. Rhythm is pulse, rhythm is ritual and life is ritual. There is an aspect of this mystical journey that I need I and want to understand it.

•    Tell us something about yourself?
Oh... I am basically a ‘Kutchi’ (Gujarat) and was born in Africa. I have been to lots of places including England and Iran. I moved to New York ten years ago and presently residing there along with my children and husband and like to visit and know more about my native place (Kutch).

•    Is this your first exhibition in India? Where else have you exhibited your works?
Oh yes… This is the first time I am here to exhibit my stuff. My work has been displayed at the Africa Centre UK, Queens Museum NY, Lincoln Center NY, The National Building Museum DC, The Jersey City Museum NJ, The RCA UK and most recently at the 2010 Art Fair Slick Paris.

•    When will you start your next work?
Don’t know…. As soon as I get free from here I will start working on my next project.

Read also :Painting 'With Marks':Amina Ahmed