Today, Islamic art has a strong presence in the world. Contemporary artists continue to explore the line between the modern and ancient as they combine modern technology, political messages, and history. All art in the LACMA is traditional to a certain extent: it uses the Arabic alphabet and traditional ornaments. The combination of traditional and modern makes it possible to show the connection between the present and the past and show creativity. One of the artists who made a visible impact in contemporary Islamic art is Hojat Amani, whose work “Fallen Angels” is printed on the first pages of Islamic Art Now. Hojat Amani managed to depict the struggle of a fallen angel by using different means of artistic expression that thrill the viewers and make them question their beliefs.
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The basis and inspiration for Amani to create this art piece was the concept of angels in Muslim culture. The belief that angels accompany humans throughout their lives was deeply embedded in his understanding of life. Not only Amani but many other Muslim children are still brought up praying to these angels who guard them. Muslim children are taught to recite the salam looking from right to left to address the angels who record their good and evil deeds. Such an idea is deeply embedded in the Muslim culture and inspired Amani to create an alternate version of it. He took a different approach to perceive angels and showed a human side of an angel who fell and crashed. The angel was destroyed under the weight of human misdeeds and took the fall. This tragic sight raises the moral idea of the righteousness of our actions and beliefs.
The work “Fallen Angels” by Hojat Amani is a digital image from a series of Angels on Paradise. The image portrays the angel who took the form of an ordinary Iranian woman lying on the ground. The golden leaves behind her are shaped as wings of an angel. The work’s despair is underlined by the cracks in the ground that add to the sense of crisis. The angel fell from the sky, as the name of the work suggests, and got shattered.
The tone of the work is dark and depressive to add to the whole impression of hopelessness. The saturation of the work is purposefully dull to set the mood. The hue of low saturation makes the scene look gray and muddy. The overall combination of colors complimenting each other is mainly warm but it does not create a sense of comfort, thus emphasizing the crisis. The texture of digital art is also an important aspect that creates a lasting impression. Even if the art is not three-dimensional, one can still feel the photo’s rough and grainy texture. The autumn earth is dry and shattered, and the leaves get mixed with dirt and mud. Even the angel who is supposed to be the embodiment of divine and pure is portrayed as dusty and decomposing.
The space in the work of art is skillfully set to create an impression from a passer-by perspective. The shot was taken from the side, emphasizing the work’s down-to-earth nature. The linear perspective and the angle from which the shot was taken allow for exploration of the space around the angel. The image does not appear to be flat as it was skillfully touched and edited. The cracks seem natural and give volume to the work. The pictorial depth breathes in the natural feeling and makes it easier for the viewer to relate to the angel than with a flat picture.
The image’s composition creates the atmosphere of the photo and allows the eye to move to explore the image. The composition is dynamic as the viewer travels from the face to the legs and analyzes the piece. The asymmetry of the photo and a certain unevenness creates a unique composition that suggests a distortion but does not make it unpleasing for an eye. The shape and colors harmoniously match to balance the work. The image also gives a pictorial space of the earth and the body that does not look like an angel’s abstract depiction.
The front and back zones of the image naturally complement each other. The foreground of the image is the laying body that attracts the viewers’ attention first. Then the view focuses on the middle ground where one can see the wings, and the image’s composition deepens. The middle ground adds to the foreground and creates an understanding that the body is an angel. Then the background comes into perspective – the shattered ground and mud allow the viewer to understand that the action takes place in everyday surroundings. The cracks appear and form the meaning that the author wanted to convey.
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The specific features of the regional Islamic style can also be traced through the work. Since all the art pieces in the journal of contemporary art of the middle east can be referred to as modern Islamic art, they all share a combination of similarities. The modern Islamic style develops as any other style but still possesses historical Islamic features. It mainly uses the Arabic alphabet, geometric ornament, and specific colors. Amani does not communicate the message through any alphabet, but the traditional Arabic features can be seen through the traditional Islamic attire on a woman. Her head is covered, but she wears jeans and sneakers. Such a combination brings the past, present, and future of the Muslim culture together. The modern interpretation of the oldest cultural tradition brings a new perspective that shapes Islamic art’s future but does not ruin the heritage.
Hojat Amani’s work, “Fallen Angels,” has a profound meaning that needs to be analyzed. Amani himself admits that the notion of angels captivated him, and he wanted to express his understanding through art. The artist interprets an old Muslim tradition in a modern way by representing an angel in a human woman’s guise. On the one hand, it shows the humane side of angels and humans’ divine side, thus blending the line between sacred and day-to-day life. On the other hand, this art has a more moral meaning intended to teach us a lesson. The sins and moral wrongdoing that the guarding angel’s witness can sometimes be too big to handle. The angel took the weight of the woman’s faults and crashed under its deadly mass. It may as well be the metaphor for the inner crisis that crashed the person and broke him into pieces. Such an understanding shows the graveness of the societal and personal flaws that angels can no longer handle. It is a trope that brings some part of heaven to the mundane world.
All in all, the author’s message is different around the world and depends on personal beliefs. Art has a unique ability to connect with a person through color, composition, and styles used as it comes together as a complete work and leaves a lasting impression. Hojat Amani’s skillful combination of dull colors, unique composition, and deep moral meaning creates modern art that reflects the culture and builds the middle east’s future.
Eglinton, K.A., Gubrium, A. and Wexler, L. “Digital Storytelling as Arts-Inspired Inquiry for Engaging, Understanding, and Supporting Indigenous Youth.” International Journal of Education & the Arts, no.18 (2017): 5.