DR. LINDA KOMAROFF
Curator of Islamic Art and Department Head
Art of the Middle East Islamic Art Now, Part 2: Contemporary Art of the Middle East
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Carpets are perhaps the best-known form of Islamic art, and most famous of all are those from Iran and its immediate neighbors. Contemporary artists from the region draw inspiration from this traditional art form—sometimes to remarkable effect, as here. In this strikingly surrealistic take on the classic northwest Iranian or Azerbaijani carpet, which has been designed specifically for LACMA, something dark appears to be oozing out of the piece, causing it to fold in on itself or perhaps even melt. Faig Ahmed lives and works in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, which, along with the similarly named province across the border in the Islamic Republic of Iran, was the main region for the production of classical "Persian" carpets.

Carpet weaving is therefore a cornerstone of Ahmed's cultural heritage. Although he works in other mediums—painting, video, and installation—he is best known for his woven pieces based on traditional local carpet designs, which he deconstructs and remakes to form something entirely contemporary. Sometimes his carpets take on a three-dimensional or even kinetic quality— optical illusions worked out in advance on a computer before the rugs are woven by hand.