Zarah Hussain at Traces Bagri Art Trail

Traces is the The Bagri Foundation's first art trail, organised on the occasion of Asian Art in London 2021. As part of the trail, three London-based intergenerational contemporary artists have responded to the beauty and history of selected artefacts and antiques shown by three participating galleries. Aimed at facilitating new and unexpected encounters of traditional and contemporary Asian art, the Bagri Art Trail invites audiences to engage with and enjoy the dialogue among disciplines, art forms, materials, and histories.



British artist Zarah Hussain combines contemporary digital art with a training in hand drawn Islamic geometry. Her work encompasses animations made with code, interactive apps, painting and sculpture. For Bagri Art trail Zarah Hussain, has created original micro-commissions that are shown alongside the collections of Shahnaz .


Zarah Hussain has spent many years perfecting the traditional techniques for creating mathematically precise, geometric art and then adapting them to produce unique works with a contemporary resonance across a range of disciplines. Her work crosses many forms including digital art, painting and sculpture.


Shahnaz Gallery is a second generation gallery and successor to Bashir Mohamed Ltd. Bashir Mohamed acquired major works of Islamic and Asian Art, and has played a significant role in establishing important collections, aiding private collectors and major museums globally. Today the gallery is run by Shahnaz, his daughter, who is dedicated to the promotion of the art of the Islamic and Asian world, continuing to show exceptional and important works of art.

The encounter between Zarah Hussain and Shahnaz Gallery has sparked conversations between traditional and contemporary art with the creation of original work that is on show for the duration of Asian Art in London, from 21 October to 6 November 2021.


Zarah said “For Shahnaz Gallery on the Bagri Art Trail, I am inspired by seeing the star octagon motif in so many of the objects in the collection. This motif is commonly found in design across the Islamic world, but the particular arrangement of pattern I am focusing on is from the tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah in Agra, India. I am making a generative animation using code to create an ever changing visual experience of colour shape and pattern on display in the window of the gallery during Asian Art week.”

Zarah Hussain | Aath, 2021, Video made with Computer Code, Duration: 3’ 25”

Aath means 8 in Urdu. In making this animation for Traces – Bagri Art Trail, I was inspired by objects in the Shahnaz Gallery that made use of the eight pointed Star Octagon. The Star Octagon is a shape that is often seen in Islamic art, particularly in Spain, Morocco and India. The symbolic meaning of eight within Islam refers to the eight bearers of the throne and the foot stool or kursi of God.


Zarah Hussain | Aath, 2021, Video made with Computer Code, Duration: 3’ 25”

The animation is made using C# computer code, all the shapes are programmed to gradually morph and change colour moving from the centre to unfold outwards. The source pattern for the design is from the tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah in Agra, India.

The power of the symmetry along with the repetition of the same shape over and again with the harmony of the ever-changing colours is designed to draw you into a moment of meditation and reflection. I am hoping that viewers will have a brief moment in time to enjoy and feel immersed in the colours and shapes."


Read Sotheby’s Institute of Art’s selected alumni, Miyako Kato, piece about Hussain’s commission in response to Shahnaz Gallery’s exhibition for Asian Art in London 2021 here.


Alessandra Cianetti, Project Manager of Bagri Foundation said“We are excited to launch Traces, our first Art Trail as part of Asian Art in London 2021. We strive to create spaces for dialogue among contemporary and traditional art, and were pleased to see the enthusiastic response the trail received by the artists, galleries, and partners involved. We look forward to experiencing this encounter between exquisitely crafted antiques and contemporary art practices and what new work it will generate.”


Zarah Hussain's work is exhibited at Shahnaz Gallery from Thursday 21 October – Saturday 6 November 2021.


Find out more about Traces Bagri Art Trail here.