“The aim of art is to embody the secret essence of things, not to copy their appearance.”
Whenever I have referred to my training in art, in Baghdad, I have alluded to these early visions of Islam, "Culture of the Pen" that in some cases, is seen as very different from the philosophical approaches of Western aesthetics, though we must not forget that Islam helped to push the West toward the ancient cultural sources, collecting, preparing and transmitting the texts and commentaries of Greek thought, especially Aristotelian, prompting his return in the European aesthetics training. "In the tenth century we can speak of a Golden Age, and of a Philosophical Humanism similar to that which emerged in the Italian Renaissance. The Art of Islam anticipated the contemporary, with its interest not in the content, but above all, in shapes, and in their sensory pleasures.1"
The Arab ideas of humanism were represented by Ibn al-Muqaffa, the Brothers of Purity, Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Ibn al-Hayter and Averroes, combining Aristotelianism with Neoplatonism.
The meaning of Islamic art can be placed in the context of Neopythagorism and its idea of beauty, based on the musical harmony and geometry of the universe, and the Neoplatonism of the Baghdadi group of al-Tawhidi, whose concept of beauty is the idea of a single and harmoniously structured work, as a transcendence of nature and the material, through the work of the artist.
Platonic Aristotelian thought comes from Pythagorean tradition (mathematics) which identifies shape with the arrangement of parts; the parts that make up the whole must possess defined proportions, as the beauty of the object depends on these ratios. Therefore, there is no art without proportion or order. Aristotle however changed the concept of form, which not only depends on the proportion and order of the parts, but instead lies in the artist's soul, which in Islam is called Tawhid, and this knowledge which lies in his soul is what moves his hands, a central concept in Islam.
The formal cause is the key to Aristotle, when the artist produces, (efficient cause), he must have in his soul this form of that substance which he wants to produce. The energy or active idea, together with the material, communicates the form. In this sense, art is an energy or active virtuality, as the capacity to produce brings to life in the available material, that which in reality is universal and necessary, resulting in the real material of art being universal. Works of art perfect and complete nature, the final and efficient causes can be reduced to the formal cause, whose purpose and form coincide, when we are faced with realities in the process of continual transformation, which occurs in all living beings, and with works of art.
In this experience of spiritual realization, the artist strives to achieve insight, which is the intimate relationship between the work and its creator, not just for the end result but in its process. "The active contemplation of nature leads not only to an approximation of the knowledge of it, but also a stimulus for understanding the human condition, its accidents and setbacks, its lights and shadows, all that unlimited and enigmatic landscape that makes up the inner world of each one " (Nietzsche)
Although there is no express prohibition against figurative representation, and there are examples of the integration of figurative, calligraphic and ornamental elements, it is true that such representations were banished from religious buildings, and this gave life to the search for a more abstract art, the stylized representation of vegetation, interlocking geometric patterns, called arabesque, incorporating concepts and aesthetic perspectives born and developed in the very heart of Islamic culture.
Calligraphy was used as a medium, due to the need of being expressed in writing the Holy Muslim Book. The importance of the text is expressed with the use of carefully-chosen terms and abstracts, the Kufic script accentuating the diagonal, with its rhombic elements and verticals. The pen is the right instrument to create this infinite movement with the aim of transcending the search for the absolute.
My initial training took place in a world of geometric shapes and themes emblematic of oriental codes, where rules and order prevail, in a mathematical and geometric decorative style, where elements are repeated endlessly, in a kind of "horror vacui" striving to give meaning to all parts of the surface.
I have been influenced both by my background and by my experiences and interaction with Western culture, making use of iconographic associations, sounds, music, the colours and geometry of my beginnings, using a language which, through a tightly-woven network, connects and interweaves spaces and places, but with a different meaning, thus revealing this complex spiral of competing perspectives.
My painting is characterized by work in two dimensions, the price of alertness, whether at rest or moving, rhythm and flat composition, a lack of perspective, but with an outcome based and founded on shape, and with drawing, which functions as arbitrator and harmonizer in the development of calligraphic schematic. In fact, every gesture, outside its own significance, is, in itself, a form of proportion and order, paying homage to a resulting geometric concept that enables me to interpret reality. The sinuous line speaks for itself, merging with other marks on the canvas, expressing aesthetic tensions and accentuating a harmony that brings dialogue, fusing seemingly opposing traditions of different perspectives together to create their own space.
“A moon came out on its sacred journey, although I was only moving around her, she, meanwhile, surrounded me”
1.José Miguel Puerta Vílchez. La función representativa, cognoscitiva de las imágenes
HANOOS HANOOS 2012