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Spiritual art with a purpose

Tradition and religion merge in Amir Shayesteh Tabar's works, which promote peace

Image Credit:Vazhisojan/Gulf News
An artwork from The Blue Symphony series
Weekend Review

Tradition and religion merge in Amir Shayesteh Tabar's works, which promote peace

Amir Shayesteh Tabar's journey has been long, lonely and difficult. But the Iranian artist has no regrets.

“Sixteen years ago I listened to my heart and gave up my job to dedicate my life to developing a new form of Islamic art.

Most people laughed at my ideas but my love for art and my eternal love for the divine motivated me to pursue my mission,'' said Tabar, who is based in Dubai.

The result of his efforts is a series of mesmerising, iridescent, geometric works in various shades of blue that he calls The Blue Symphony.

Tabar has combined traditional Islamic calligraphy and the symmetry of geometrical forms with Barqoue, Moroccan, Indian and other international art traditions to create patterns that are new but rooted in traditional Islamic art.

The unique feature of his work is that the complex patterns have been created not with lines but with the Arabic words “In the name of God, most gracious and most merciful'' and unlike in traditional calligraphy, the words and the sentence appear unbroken throughout the pattern, giving the artworks a spiritual dimension.

Tabar has named each of the 32 patterns he has so far created after a Sura from the Quran.

“This work was created by a divine force and I was merely an instrument in the creative process.

Its beauty, spirituality and luminosity reflects the message of peace and universal brotherhood of Islam,'' he said.

The artist studied industrial management but his heart was always in art.

“I spent most of my time studying art books in the library. I studied Islamic and international art and attended several workshops on calligraphy.

But I felt that repeating the same old patterns and techniques was not true art.

I wanted to innovate and create motifs that are new and original yet connect with our subconscious because of their link with oriental and Islamic traditions,'' he said.

Tabar, who believes artists must use the media and technology of their times, has adopted digital technology to create artworks.

“Working on the computer with the curved Persian calligraphic font called Nastaliq was difficult but I wanted to use this font because curves are in harmony with nature and our bodies,'' he said.

Although he experimented with colours, he finally used only shades of blue because it created a feeling of infinity.

He named the artworks The Blue Symphony because he likes to listen to music when he works.

Tabar's creations have been well received at exhibitions in Iran and abroad, with work being commissioned for offices and homes.

But he has a bigger vision. “My dream is to see these patterns used for cityscapes, buildings, mosques, interiors, jewellery, fashion garments, carpets and other objects.

For the Islamic world, this is about reaffirming our identity, bringing children in touch with our rich artistic history and absorbing fine art in life to create beauty and harmony outside and within,'' he said.

“I would love to work with urban planners to develop master plans for cities based on these patterns using different words or lines from poetry.

This way, each city would be unique and beautiful, with a distinct identity.

Just imagine how beautiful our planet would look from space with such cities dotting the surface.

Today our cities and buildings are a mix of Eastern and Western elements that do not go together.

Integrating the exteriors and interiors through these patterns would create a sense of harmony,'' he added.

Tabar is in Dubai because he believes the city, with its multicultural ethos and visionary leadership, is a good place to pioneer these ideas.

But architects and interior designers around the world have shown interest in his ideas.

This has encouraged Tabar to set up the Blue Foundation.

“Through this foundation, I want to use the income generated from the commercial applications of The Blue Symphony to set up art academies around the world because I believe that art is the best way to promote intercultural understanding and peace,'' he said.

“I hope people around the world will support us and that we can set up our first art academy in Dubai.''

Jyoti Kalsi is a UAE-based art enthusiast.

Message of peace

Among those who support Tabar's work is the United States-based interior designer Perla Lichi, the president of the Blue Foundation.

“The Blue Symphony unites people from around the world because it comes from the soul and is an expression of world peace.

I am proud to be part of the Blue Foundation because I admire Tabar's creativity, spirituality and passion for art and his aim to spread a message of peace in Islam,'' Lichi said.

Karen Fenn, the foundation's representative in the United Kingdom, said: “The Blue Symphony marks a new chapter in Islamic art.

It strikes a chord and has diverse applications. We hope the artworks will ... pave the way for peace.

The foundation's aim is to spread a message of peace in Islam.

We are looking for support in terms of finance or sponsorship for exhibitions and space to establish an art centre.''