Sunday, August 30, 2009

SANDOW BIRK: Personal Meditations’ on the Koran

from the article,

Upon being told of the project, Marianna Shreve Simpson, an Islamic art and book-arts expert who is president-elect of the Historians of Islamic Art Association, anticipated that some Muslims might consider the use of figurative images in this context “heretical.” But she added that reactions are especially hard to predict in this case because it’s so unusual. “I’ve never in my entire career heard of an artist creating a handwritten copy of the Koran in English, and certainly not one that incorporates representational imagery. So this is completely novel, what he is doing.”

Formally Mr. Birk is known for novelty, for scrambling high and low art by updating genres like European history painting with a graphic, urban sensibility. For this project, he said, he paid homage to Persian miniatures by working with watercolors and gouaches and adopting a relatively flat, non-Western perspective. And in keeping with historic examples of the Koran he made blue, red and gold the touchstones of his color scheme.

At the same time his take on the Koran is highly unconventional, complete with gritty street scenes that reflect his own skate-surf aesthetic. His calligraphy is loosely based on Cholo graffiti associated with East Los Angeles. And instead of celebrating the text as the focal point in keeping with the Islamic bias against figurative imagery, he has painted elaborate narrative scenes underneath the written word.


Link to WOrk:

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