Faig Ahmed is an internationally recognized artist from Baku, Azerbaijan, who represented Azerbaijan at the Venice Biennale in 2007. He is well known for his conceptual works that utilize traditional decorative craft and the visual language of carpets into contemporary sculptural works of art. His works reimagine ancient crafts and create new visual boundaries by deconstructing traditions and stereotypes.
Ahmed is among a new wave of contemporary artists exploring crafts in innovative ways to produce conceptual works that break away from conventions associated with the craft by bringing it into an global contemporary art context. Ahmed explores fresh new visual forms that examine tradition and challenge our perception of traditions through iconic cultural objects. The artist experiments with traditional materials and colors such as the rug weavings in Azerbaijan or Indian embroidery, yet he explains that “he is not interested in merging the past and present,” but is interested “in the past because it’s the most stable conception of our lives.” Among his art historical inspirations Ahmed lists Hieronymus Bosch and Otto Dix, among his contemporaries he admires James Turrell and Anish Kapoor.
The artist’s deep interests and avenues of personal inquiry are connected to world religions, mystical practices, ancient scripture, calligraphy and patterns. In the introduction to his first major European solo show, “Points of Perception” at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma, the curator for the exhibition, Claudio Libero Pisano states that the artist “ deals with the question concerning the perception of truth” and creation of.” He describes Ahmed’s aesthetic as “daring and futuristic”, and yet "faithful to ancient methods.”
Ahmed’s artworks engage the viewers through it’s unexpected marriage of traditional crafts, steeped in history, with hyper-contemporary, digitally distorted images often in the form of pixilation, three-dimensional shapes and melting paint that alters the pattern on the rugs. He employs computers to sketch his works and chooses intricate traditional methods of carpet-weaving techniques to printing his designs on carpets. In his work “Oiling” 2012, in the collection of Seattle Art Museum, his hand-woven carpet designs transform and appear as though the pigments in the rug are melting into a wavy pattern of oil on water.
Linda Komaroff, Curator of Islamic Art and Head of Middle Eastern Art, at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art wrote: “Although Faig Ahmed works in other mediums–painting, video and installation, he is best known for his fantastical woven pieces based on the classical Azerbaijani carpet, which is a cornerstone of the artist’s cultural heritage…Today, Ahmed carries on this artistic tradition but not with ink and paper; instead, he remakes his carpet designs on a computer, generating optical illusions that transform the finished work into something entirely contemporary, which can express a three-dimensional or even kinetic quality.”
Ahmed’s works in broad range of mediums including his intricate installation “Embroidery Space” 2012, made of silk threads, installation “Disassembled” 2013, made of handmade wool carpet and mixed media, and the work “Birds” 2011, in mixed media, show the artist’s contemporary concepts visualized in various mediums.
Faig Ahmed (Baku, 1982) lives and works in Baku, Azerbaijan and graduated from the sculpture department of Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in 2004. He represented Azerbaijan at the nation’s inaugural pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and participated in the show “Love Me, Love Me Not” in 2013.
Ahmed has exhibited his works worldwide including group and solo exhibitions in New York, Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, Dubai, Moscow and the UAE. In 2013, the artist was nominated for the Jameel Prize 3 at Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His works are in public collections including Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum, Palm Springs Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, RISD Museum of Art, Chrysler Museum of Art, Arsenal Contemporary, Currier Museum of Art, NH, National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; Wake Forest University; and in private collections such as West Collection, Philadelphia; Microsoft Art Collection, the collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody, New York; Galila’ Collection, Brussels; Ranza collection, Rome; Jameel Foundation, London and H.H. Sh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, UAE.
In the past few years, Ahmed’s works is being exhibited in several museums in the Museum of Fine Art Boston, Los Angeles County Museum, Bellevue Art Museum, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, MOCA Cleveland, Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, Powerhouse, Australia, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design and others.