Interview: Shafaq Ahmad

interview: Shafaq ahmadImage courtesy of Shafaq Ahmad

Interview: Shafaq Ahmad
Luca Curci talks with the artist Shafaq Ahmad during SPACES – SURFACES FESTIVAL at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.

Shafaq Ahmad was born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. After she left Pakistan Ahmad lived in the United Kingdom, Iran and Denmark before settling down in the Unit-ed States. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia in 1991 and a Master of Fine Art degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas in 2011. She worked as an art glass designer from 1995 to 2003 and collaborated with several art glass studios in Czech Republic and Sweden. She designed art glass for Barovier and Toso Czech Republic for 8 years. Her art glass designs are in private collections in many countries. Presently, she works as a multimedia artist. Ahmad has participated in many solo and over 70 group exhibitions in the USA, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Japan, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Italy and United Arab Emirates. Her work is a part of permanent collections at the Sharjah Department of Art and Culture in the United Arab Emirates, Museum of Geo-metric and Madi Art in Dallas, Texas, Mercedes Benz Daimler Financial, Corporate Headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas and other institutions. Ahmad’s work has been included in 101 Contemporary Artists, Art Voices magazine, Studio Visit maga-zine, Islamic Arts Magazine, Emel magazine, Art Now Pakistan, Dallas Art Review, Star Telegram, Libas Magazine, Valassko, Vlastivedna Revue, VAIA, bont VOOR BINNEN, and Ceramic & Glass, among other publications.

                        

interview: Shafaq ahmadImage courtesy of Shafaq Ahmad

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Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Shafaq Ahmad Art from me is my freedom of expression and it also reflects my soul. As evolve as a person spiritually or gain more knowledge I can see that reflected in my art.

LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
SA – I come from a family who appreciated art in all forms, and I grew up amidst discussions relating to literature and art within our extended family. Both my parents were fans of Urdu and Persian poetry and literature in general. We use to have poetry readings in our house with some of the well known poets in Pakistan like Hafiz Jalandhari, who wrote the National anthem of Pakistan and others. One of my uncle and his wife were avid collectors of contemporary Pakistani art and their house was a hub for artists, writers and poets sitting on the lawn in the summer evenings exchanging ideas and having discussions. I attended many poetry sessions by Fez Ahmed Fez and had a privilege of seeing Chughtai and Sadeqain’s art two of the most recognized artists from Pakistan. I have travelled within Pakistan and around the world since I was a young girl and experiencing different cultures and the exposure to their art has in general influenced my perception and as a result my artwork. Growing up I really wanted to be in the field of medicine and studied the sciences in college first but later ended up studying art and design. My interest in science in general informs my work to some extent. I started as a professional interior designer after college and also designed art glass working with glass masters in Europe. It is only later that I started to use other media as an artist but my design sensibility is alway part of what I make. I received a MFA in Visual Arts in 2011.

                       

interview: Shafaq ahmadImage courtesy of Shafaq Ahmad

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LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society? And the contemporary art?
SA – The artist via the platform of art is able to reach out to various audience and build bridges of understanding without a direct verbal confrontation. The artist can also provide just the visual pleasure as well as thought provoking images and ideas. Through the work of the artists the world can learn about diversity without feeling threatened. Contemporary art to me is a commentary of what is going on now and is able to take many forms to reach out to the audience as it does not comply to any one movement of style.

LC – What is your creative process like?
SA – Creatively I work in two ways. One is when I am inspired to create without any specific plan in mind, especially in case of my paintings. The painting seem to evolve organically and is a meditative process for the most part. I am totally absorbed in creating layers through color and writings. Another way that I create work is when there is some planning involved for example, when I am creating a specific series or a site specific installation. When I start to make the art I can easily spend 7-8 hours at a time. But I must stress on how important research and study is to learn about the subject in the series I decide to create which is a continuous process.

                        

interview: Shafaq ahmadImage courtesy of Shafaq Ahmad

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LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
SA – The act of creating serves as contemplative process through which I attempt to show the connection of the universal spirit of all living beings. I focus and am absorbed in the meditative act of painting and print making. The experience of  being embraced by the universal spirit is expressed through luminosity of color and light, movement through gesture, richness through layering of color, and depth through intertwining mark making. The element of geometric shapes coming through manifests beauty through balance and harmony. The calligraphic mark with a sense of forever being repeated represents the infinite consciousness. The movement and the energy of the calligraphic marks show the constant state of flux of each thing. The words come from Sufi Zikr or meditation, Urdu, Persian and Arabic literary arts and mysticism. The vocabulary in my work is repetition in the forms/shapes and writings, study of fractals in nature and the study of our universe. Meditation on all these themes has driven my work up till now.

LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? In which way did it inspire
you?
SA – The festival brought together international exhibition of photography, painting, video art, art installations, sculpture and performance art and was able to offer something to a wide variety of audience from Italy and visiting art enthusiasts from abroad. It was an honor for me to participate in this festival to be shown with other international artists on such a dynamic platform. Luca Curci offered an opportunity to all artists regardless of their background and was successful in making a diverse presentation with many concepts, textures and values. I hope more organizers will be inspired by this process and provide an opportunity for artists who may not have a chance to be represented in an international platform like this. I have participated in many international shows but the personal interaction with the organizers in this festival was a pleasure.

                     

interview: Shafaq ahmadImage courtesy of Shafaq Ahmad

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LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as a part of preexisting works?
SA – Actually it’sliquid group invited me to participate and already had some of my existing work in mind. But going forward I would love to collaborate with them and create new work to present on this platform.

LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
SA – Already answered in question no. 6

LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
SA – It was very evident to me as a participating artist that the event was organized with passion and care and each person in the organization was totally dedicated to make an excellent presentation and service the artists and their needs.

LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
SA – I enjoyed cooperating with all members of the organization specially the curator Luca Curci who has the vision to promote the arts and at the artists from all different cultures and backgrounds from all over the world without any reservations.

                       

interview: Shafaq ahmadImage courtesy of Shafaq Ahmad

interview: Shafaq ahmadImage courtesy of Shafaq Ahmad

interview: Shafaq ahmadImage courtesy of Shafaq Ahmad

interview: Shafaq ahmadImage courtesy of Shafaq Ahmad

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