Known for her minimalist, abstract, artworks that draw together elements of language, spirituality, and traditional Islamic art, artist Lulwah Al Homoud uses calligraphy and mathematical processes to form her own visual language.
Calligraphy is central to Lulwah’s work, which explores the complexities of linguistic, mathematical and visual systems of communication. Her artistic practice is inspired by Islamic art and geometry, as well as Western artists like Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Mondrian. Lulwah deconstructs Arabic script and applies ancient mathematical principles to devise unique systems of expression, revealed through the elaborate geometric patterns that have become a hallmark of her work. This process reflects the artist's preoccupation with the relationship between creator and creation, as well as the multifarious ways in which God communicates with man.
We talk to Lulwah all things abstraction, calligraphy and Islamic philosophy.
You are a pioneer and one of the few women to practice abstract art in Saudi Arabia. What led you to a career as an artist?
I have been attracted to calligraphy, specifically Arabic calligraphy, from an early age. This led me to choose the subject of understanding Islamic Art and how the Arabic script evolved. My knowledge of this subject got me more fascinated and as an artist abstraction became my path. Islamic art is an abstract art but I was constantly attempting to push that abstraction further.
Do you think education and training is important to the development of an artist?
It certainly did change my views to art and helped me to find my path. Art in general is a research process whether that is through mainstream education or not but for me my training got me to where I am now.
Your work explores calligraphy and Islamic philosophy. How did you develop an interest in these areas?
That was developed through curiosity and research. It fascinates me how calligraphy was adopted by different cultures and became part of various cultures. Islamic geometry was never explored through my previous education. I felt we were isolated from it and never had a full understanding of the many sciences within it. Having lived in London for many years of my life encouraged me to understand my art and culture, not as how it was described to us by others but by us as Muslims.
Through your work, you represent the oneness that connects, using mathematical principles behind the universe and its creation, from the unique hexagonal shape of snowflakes to the double helix of DNA. It is also a founding principle behind Islamic art, which uses geometrical archetypes to decorate holy sites. Why is Islam an integral part of your work?
Islam and the Islamic thought carry universal principals and ideas, simply because Islam is a message for humanity and a continuation of previous messages, it is not meant to be for a certain race a specific culture. It is fascinating how it connects us as human beings to our surrounding spiritually.
As an artist you have an international audience, featuring in the collections of the British Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Greenbox Museum of Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in the Netherlands. How do you feel having such global recognition?
I feel so blessed to have international audience, as artists, the more we connect and communicate our creativity with the outside world, the more we flourish.
You founded and lead Lulwah Al Homoud Art Foundation, which publishes books, organizes exhibitions, and promotes cross-cultural research. What are your aspirations and hopes for the foundation?
I have always believed in education and there is nothing like art that can unveil layers of knowledge and connect us together. I am looking at the cultural gaps we have and trying to contribute in filling them. I am hoping to be one of the institutions that contributes in the development of my country’s art and culture.
You won the 2020 Al Rawabi Holding Group prize for her outstanding contribution to Saudi-British relations. How can art facilitate social and community cohesion, locally, nationally and internationally?
Most of the problems in the world are caused by ignorance, if we are not open enough through culture, these problems will arise. We have so much in common as human beings but we have to understand who we are before we connect with the world. When we share our culture with the rest of the world, we find more similarities than differences.
Do you think art can facilitate change and action?
Of course, art is a tool for change. Its power is underestimated. Through the creative process, we are pushing the boundaries and begin the change within ourselves and transmit that change to the outside world.
What does the future of Islamic art look like to you?
Islamic art carries eternal idea and principals, it does not portray a certain era or region, that’s why it will continue and evolve.
For more information check follow Lulwah Al Homoud on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lulwah_al_homoud/?hl=en
The views of the artists, authors and writers who contribute to Bayt Al Fann do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Bayt Al Fann, its owners, employees and affiliates.