Tradition in Pixel (2010)
100 cm x 150 cm
Handmade woollen carpet
Faig Ahmed studied Sculpture in Azerbaijan and has since worked in a variety of mediums including rugs and installations. His carpets take inspiration from traditional Azerbaijan rugs and incorporate a sense of history and tradition with a completely fresh approach. His delicate installations illustrate his versatility and show why his work has been featured at the Venice Biennale and exhibited at some of the most prestigious galleries worldwide.
What is your earliest memory or association with textiles ?
The house where I grew up. There were carpets everywhere.
I read that you studied Sculpture, when and why did you start using textiles as a medium?
I studied sculpture faculty in Azerbaijan Art University. These years should be the best in artist’s life. As all the sculptures we made were just a process of copying the works of classic artists this activity had nothing to do with a definition of art. Art is a way of free thinking and I chose carpet because it symbolizes stability and unshakable principles. This was a challenge for me.
Was it a struggle to become such a high-profile professional artist or were you discovered and able to be a full time artist straight after studying?
If we speak about professionalism then being an artist is hard. Of course I worked hard and I still do. Being an artist is not a job but a lifestyle. Moreover, it’s a difficult path to take as you have to work all the time, you never stop. You are surrounded with objects to research. But it’s the only way to study the world around you and yourself as well.
Your work is so versatile in that it covers many mediums with textiles. What was the progression?
My first works were mostly carpets and after I knew the technique precisely I started creating sculpture pieces and installations.
Do you envisage your carpets exhibited on walls or are they to be on the floor and used?
I mostly create my carpets to be exhibited on walls. But some were designed specifically to be on the floor.
I understand that local weavers weave the carpets. Can you describe the process and collaboration?
Initially we had a lack of understanding each other because my ideas were too complicated for a traditional technique like carpet weaving. The understanding didn’t change because I understood that the problem was not in the carpet or the technique but in the carpet weavers themselves. That’s why I create a sketch then transfer it to an engineering paper and pass them an exact image they have to weave accordingly.
Azerbaijan carpets have a real sense of history, in the colours, technique and patterns. Your work seems to simultaneously respect this yet modernize it. How do you manage to do both?
First you have to understand and study the tradition and this is the respect – detailed and objective research gives you a chance to see the sacred elements of the tradition, it reveals it’s secrets to an objective investigator.
Your installations are very intricate. How long does one like Silk Threads take to do?
It can take from one month to two depending on the design of installation. And of course my team can do miracles even when the timing is very short.
Do you construct it directly in the gallery?
Some of them yes, because sometimes they should be site specific. But couple of them were made in my studio and then shipped to the place of exhibition to be installed there.
You have used such a range of media since you graduated. Does your current work have common themes since your earlier pieces or have the themes evolved over time?
Before I started doing my carpet and textile artworks I have used different themes and medias. But carpet need a long-term research so I kept doing it for years.
You have exhibited all over the world. What has been your highlight so far?
There are no highlights for me because I cannot stick to the past and I cannot underline anything from the past.
What are your plans for the future? Are you keen to keep working with textiles?
I’ll keep working with the same media but my concept is going to change because this twist has happened inside me as well.
Is there anything you would like to add?
There will be a solo show in a museum in Rome, which will be a new step in my art path.
Faig Ahmed Artist