RIYADH: A Jeddah-based artist is on a mission to redefine and modernize classical Islamic art by creating affordable handmade pieces inspired by her heritage.
Afnan Tash, the artist behind Al Mihrab, creates unique pieces inspired by Islamic art across the ages, utilizing materials such as paper, glass, wood and metal.
She said that her “great focus is on adding a special beauty to everything that is created.”
Tash takes her inspiration from classic cultural elements of the Kingdom’s western province: The qibla compass, indicating the direction of Makkah; the Holy Ka’aba; and the namesake of the project, the mihrab, or semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla.
“Art has the special purpose of serving mankind and facilitating our lives. It increases our familiarity with beauty, raises our artistic tastes, and enriches our experiences and outlook on life,” she told Arab News. Tash hopes to renew these elements and present them in a way that better reflects contemporary life, while preserving their beauty.
For Tash, art has a way of transcending reality and creating something unique to each viewer.
Her work involves a variety of techniques and materials, and she has experimented with several mediums. While her interests include drawing and photography, she has a special attachment to gilding and miniature painting, both of which feature frequently in her work.
For that reason, though the work may appear deceptively simple, the focus and attention required takes a lot of effort, she said.
“What surprises me most about this type of art is the presence it requires and the amount of time needed to ensure that every step is perfectly done. The minute details require a lot of care and attention.”
Tash likened the project to a long journey with no end or specific result in mind.
“When I started Al Mihrab in 2014, I had a completely different perception of myself, and it might be different again tomorrow. So I seek to invest in my love of beauty and art by reading, seeing and learning, and through the products and artworks that we offer,” she said.
Tash’s work can be bought online at salla.sa/al.mihrab, and she can be found on Instagram, @al.mihrab