Influenced her Persian roots and Iranian heritage, Ghazaleh Khayat specializes in Islamic geometry and pattern. Architecture and monuments are a key source of inspiration behind her detailed works.
We talk to Ghazaleh about specializing in traditional art, teaching creative skills and her thoughts on the future of Islamic art and culture.
How did you develop an interest in Islamic art and geometry? Did you always want to be an artist?
Well, my story started almost 10 years ago after my Ph.D. graduation when I was searching for a job. Job search is a tedious process and when I wanted to meditate I would search art clips on Instagram where I suddenly came across some geometer accounts, then I realized that this art is something that I had been growing up with, back in my home country, Iran. more specifically because it has some math in it, it satisfies my engineering background as well.
When I was a teen, I was painting and drawing, some of my art pieces are still hanging in my parents' house, but being busy with university and then working in engineering fields took me away from the art world for quite a while. Looking for a job allowed me to return to what I liked.
How has your heritage influenced your creative practice?
I receive all my inspiration from my heritage, each year when I travel to Iran to visit my parents I take a small trip to different places and cities, and every time I get fascinated by the detailed beautiful art which I see at every corner of the places. I try to put myself in the shoes of the artists and see the world from their eyes, their dedications to their tasks are brilliant.
How did you train to become an artist specializing in these traditional artforms?
Although I’m a self-taught artist, I have learned from my other fellows in the field.
Because of the dominance of traditional arts in my home country, I searched and found out that there are university majors dedicated to different types of traditional arts in Iran-which I was not aware of them back then - also many Persian books that have not yet been translated into English so I used them as my main references and guidance to learn, in addition, my engineering background and mathematic expertise helped me to have a deeper insight to analyze the patterns and develop my understanding specifically in geometry arts.
Where do you find inspiration to create your works?
Architecture and monuments in Islamic lands are my first source of inspiration, also looking into the work of other artists help me to create my art pieces. When I want to create a new piece I think to myself how I can make it a functional piece in people's lives so I try to combine these two facts, beauty and functionality of the design. Most of the time I use the designs to produce functional pieces.
How do you create your color compositions?
I believe that our masters in the past had a very good knowledge of color composition, most of the time I try to apply their taste in color into my artworks.
You also teach Islamic geometry, how and why did you embark on a journey teaching the traditional artform too?
I love teaching, I believe that you will learn in-depth when you teach, so for me, teaching is a method to learn, people ask you questions that you don't know the answers, they challenge you, all of these facts make me learn and learn. Moreover, I like to introduce these beautiful arts to people as much as I can, so I travel to different cities and countries- pre-pandemic of course- hold workshops at different levels to spread that beauty.
What do you think the future of Islamic art looks like and how do you think we can continue to keep the tradition alive?
I think in this hectic world the only common language is art. We have inherited a very beautiful language that needs to be restored. I see a very bright future of Islamic art as I see more people get interested in learning and utilizing it. If we want to keep the tradition alive we should start with our younger generation, make them proud of the profound heritage of Islamic art. We should work harder in educating the public, the better they discover the more they attract to it, so they will keep it alive.
Find out more about Peter Gould and Islam Imagined here: www.geometryarts.com
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