To generalize Islamic art without a firm grasp of Islam is a daunting task. In some sense, it seems incredibly ignorant of me to attempt to do so when the region called the middle east is comprised of several cultures, races, religions, and distinct histories. Furthermore, the artistic traditions of Islam are as varied as anything else and are hard to categorize in any specific social framework. Despite this, such artistic work seems the most appropriate choice for expanding a appreciative view of humanity that can be defined as non-western. To best secure at least something correct, I will limit this glance to Islamic geometric art. I found it difficult to find artist names behind many of the works I discovered but many are worth seeing. I suggest independent research to discover many of the anonymous patterns in pottery, textiles, and mosques. Richard Henry – Unmayyad Pattern (2006)
Most everyone is familiar with geometry and patterns. The above image by Richard Henry is included here to give some mathematical frame of reference. The artistic emphasis of these ideas gained prominence due to certain religious rules in Islamic religious texts forbidding the portrayal of human forms in worship. Additionally, the advanced mathematical discoveries in the middle east brought about some wonder toward the patterns of these ideas. The underlying message in such geometries, within the Islamic context, is the infinite and natural power of God. It is important to note that ideas like zero, our decimal counting system, and algebra originated from India and the middle east. Arabic calligraphy is also similarly celebrated and made the subject of many past and current Islamic art. A shocking break from this tradition can be found in the photography of Shirin Neshat. While other more current but traditional forms are in the following:
These paintings by Mohammand Ehsai are breathtaking. I’ve always been fascinated with graffiti art as one of the four pillars of American hip-hop culture. While Islamic culture is quite different from Hip-Hop, these images strike me in a similar way. The meaning of the words is dwarfed by the visual presentation. My peripheral understanding of this art form is one where religious worship is manifest in the words of Islamic teachings. In this context, such art can be seen as sacred as the paintings from Christian traditions during the Renaissance. There is a tremendous amount more to say about this art form but would require a greater understanding of Arabic, Islam, the middle east, and geometry. I hope this has been an interesting but brief introduction into what I think is some of the most beautiful art ever crafted.