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Whether it’s the intricate jalis of Humayun’s tomb, or the stone inlays and inscriptions on the Taj Mahal, pattern is a language; one that speaks volumes through history, art and architecture. As a math enthusiast and a patron of symmetry, Aziza Iqbal had always been drawn to the tranquility of the language of patterns. She opens up to CQ about the patterns she creates as an expression of her thoughts and abstractions.
As a enthusiast of maths, architecture, symmetry, balance, spirituality and colour, Aziza found herself quite naturally drawn to Islamic patterns, perhaps a cumulative sum of all her interests. “In 2012, I came across a UK-based institution, Art of Islamic Pattern, undertaking a practical art trip to study patterns of the Alhambra in Granada[...]. During that trip, it felt like a thousand windows opened up in my head,” she elaborates.
Inspired by traditional artforms and artisans, and subsequently alarmed at the possibility of their extinction, Aziza has chosen to carve her own path paying homage to those arts, but with her own contemporary voice.
Geometry, as Aziza believes, is at the center of her artform, and that of nature. From the simple symmetry of the petals of a flower, to the orderly etch of the strands of DNA, it all falls back to geometry. Also one among the three branches of Islamic art, geometry is Aziza’s bread and butter. “In practical terms, we can apply these rules of proportion and symmetry to paper, and using just a compass and ruler, it's possible to create a infinite variety of compositions, for both two and three-dimensional forms,” she says.
Albeit known as a surface designer, her work delves miles underneath the surface. She starts each project by understanding the application, and the conveyance expected from the pattern. Often spending the most amount of her time on research and stocking up on visual clues, she starts by experimenting with the arrangement and decorum of a pattern. Inspecting each character of the pattern aids her in devising one suitable to the brief.
She visualises and develops her projects both digitally as well as physically. Using both mediums, she says, gives her as well as her craft a sense of balance and the space to reboot and refresh. “I usually use the method opposite to what my final output will be. For example, if I’ve been commissioned to hand-draw a piece, then I often practice on the computer first. On the other hand, for digital commissions, I’ll spend some time physically sketching on paper before I start on [Adobe] Illustrator”.
An amalgamation of several of her most cherished things, namely: Morocco, geometry, watercolour and of course, chocolate, her collaboration with Mirzam chocolate makers for their Winter in Morocco collection is one of her favorites.
Narrowing down to five, from a wide array of inspirations – a task that was not easy for her – Aziza chose the patterns optimal for translating well on paper and in watercolour. As a reflection of its philosophy, Mirzam wanted the collection to be a tribute to the handmade.
Having chosen the five appropriate patterns, i.e. the ones reasonably resilient to mistakes and with simpler grids, Aziza arrived at the puzzle of appointing a set of five colours that were striking but harmonious in unity. “It's easy to paint a cover with the colour of the flavour inside it, but in this case, I would have had four bars of chocolate painted with some shade of orange: going by cloves, mandarins, spices, saffron, orange blossoms, for example”, she explains.
Conclusively, Aziza managed to put together a balanced colour theme, representative of the project, without being too overt. “Just to add some dimension, I also used an aspect of the flavour in most of the paintings themselves – for example, saffron strands soaked in the paint, orange blossom water, brewed mint leaves, seashells, and so on.”
Although art and design fall into different brackets of the market, Aziza believes the market is what you make of it. Her strengths in exposure, bankability and the freedom to create a diverse range of work, is what sways the public in her favour. Between working on an intense mural for the facebook HQ in Hyderabad, her first large scale project, and learning a new art form to add to her vocabulary of patterns: Indo-Islamic miniature with Mughal florals, Aziza also intends to push her boundaries into the possibilities of 3D by next year. “Next year, I'll be participating in a group exhibition in London inshallah where I'm hoping to work on a sculpture series for the first time!” she exclaims excitedly.
Keen on designing patterns for spaces, sculptures, murals, installations and exhibitions, Aziza’s fire has a long way to go. Spurred by social media and the vast globalisation of art and design, her creative mind responds to the constantly illuminated diversity and possibilities. Leaving us with a lingering anticipation of her future works, she draws the conversation to a [most likely temporary] end, saying “It's fantastic to be able to connect with so many brilliant, talented artists, and I'm definitely looking forward to collaborations in the future.”
Indulge your detail-oriented self in more of Aziza’s labyrinthine patterns and abstractions on her website.
Also, check out Susann Johnston, the photographer who does justice to Aziza’s art by capturing them most beautifully.
And if you’re craving some chocolate after you read this, check out Mirzam, the bean-to-bar chocolate makers.
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