When I first visited the Actual Tradition art exhibition of Azerbaijani-born contemporary artist Faig Ahmed at Kicik QalArt gallery in Baku, I was absolutely smitten by the exuberant Op-art sensibility and relentlessly bold innovation of his kaleidoscopically bright and conceptual rugs. Faig Ahmed is known for his experimentation incorporating Azeri traditional rug weaving (Azerbaijan has been since ancient times known as a major carpet making centre) into abstract shapes and forms, creating fusion pieces by breaking down the boundaries between folk and contemporary art.
Faig Ahmed’s art is like the powerful music fusion of jazz mugham. As with mugham, his carpets, a true testimony to ancient culture, induce in the viewer an awe inspiring, impressive sense of the sacred, as their patterns display deep spiritual signs, symbols and codes, whilst Ahmed’s improvisation with shapes, spatial freedom of forms and new ways of initiating translation of art languages recall eccentric jazz motifs.
Many of the carpets had titles such as Error, Instability, Expansion, Ledge, Effluence - components that are generally characterized as the internal states or deflections growing without bounds, however within a socio-cultural context all these expressions bear a slightly negative tinge. In fact, when we come across these elements in our everyday life they break its monochrome rhythm. And Faig Ahmed’s works reveal this dynamism of life’s state of matrix. The noise of the handtufting machine, which you can almost hear while looking at his works; the order and consistency of the rug creating process, which follows the laws left by our ancestors thousands years ago, signify this classical, often homogeneous, life routine. But then at one point, an unexpected error occurs or expansion appears which breaks this whole pattern and pulse, forcing us to stop for a second, start thinking and questioning; this alteration consequently engenders new emotions and fresh experiences within us. The philosophy of Ahmed’s works is to change, to expand our clichéd perception of life, break the limits and grow without bounds, finding new ways of looking at old things.
Faig Ahmed saw the beauty in those mistakes, deficiencies, distortions, outputs and tumours. His works attract the beholder to investigate those buckling, floating, indistinct and sometimes odd shapes, just like the huge wool installation Live Pressure, dominating the lower ground floor of the present exhibition, that has quite a disturbing look but you just can’t help touching that warm and bland fabric and finding yourself wondering “what is inside”?
Piece of Art, Woolen handmade carpet, wool, plastik covered with the nail
Live Pressure, Installation, Wool, metal construction, sound
Thought Scheme, Installation, Carpet threads
Instability, Woolen handmade Carpet, 150 cm x 100 cm
Liquid Carpet, Woolen handmade Carpet, 150 cm x 100 cm
Hollow, Woolen, Handmade Carpet, 150 cm x 100 cm
Tradition in pixels, Woolen handmade Carpet, 150 cm x 100 cm
Error, Woolen handmade Carpet, 150 cm x 100 cm
Effluence, Woolen handmade Carpet, 150 cm x 100 cm