Islam and Art


Islam and Art; defining Islamic Art, the artworks, religious life, and religious places, seen locally as well as globally.

I attended a mind-enlightening discussion yesterday, “Islam and Art” at Salihara Community (Initially, I was just curious about the topic, because it is totally new to me, aside from it, it was my plan to ge there earlier this year, I’m interested to join any of their events, after I got their running agendas, probably I’ll take the philosophy class). The discussion explored two layers of Islamic art and its historicity, as seen through Louvre’s collection. First, it was focus on defining Islamic art, about the artworks, religious life and religious places, seen locally as well globally. Second, the discussion talked about the chronology of Islamic art from Spain to India. The key speaker is, Yannick Lintz (a France), she is the Director of Islamic Art Department at Louvre Museum, Paris, she has serious concern in preserving the already endangered cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq; thus I assume what becomes her chief motive in her doing the discussion to better inform about the global concept of Islamic arts and its history not only in Europe but around the world.

She delivered her knowledge in a simple but quite easily grabbed exploration. Islamic Art in its development, viewed as a ‘figurative art’, it means no single or ever poignant interpretation but multifaceted; this goes the same with any other art forms, they are all basically a ‘figurative art’. She further explained her knowledge about how the Islamic Art is shaped through a long process of accumalations among many other regional inspirations; mainly middle east countries (Iran, Syria, Arab, Eghypt, etc) and quite surprisingly, China. And The Islamic Art in its relation with European Art. What I managed to grab the gist of it is, there is this ongoing misconceptions how Islamic Art is viewed as a global concept, mainly in Europe, at least they aren’t that well-exposed and well-informed to this concept yet, when actually it shares some commonalities; the existence of certain patterns, like geometry, the use of figurative images in carved object, etc.

It evoked my curiosity, when she said her audience didn’t believe it when she explained it to them that Islamic Art had dancers, it seems to me, Islam has a strictly ‘religious’ image to Europeans, and the word ‘dance’ here, kind of has a somewhat ‘negative’ connotation (it was then what I had a chance to ask her directly). To my question, Mr. Yannick answered that basically Europe has a relatively positif outlook about Islam or say,a ‘religious’ image, thus it didn’t cross their mind that Islamic Arts actually has this ‘joy’ and ‘lively’ contexts, as they came to know at last, that Islamic Art has equally the same context of arts as many other arts, not only ‘religious’ context.Basically, any history of arts, aside from its initial religional influences, has undergone the same construcs; cultural, political, and historical constructs in series of period of times what later on gave birth in a form of arts as its byproduct. I’d love to go into detail, but some terms are simply not catchy, that’s why I can only talk about the big picture of what I managed to grab; that’s all I can reserve in my memories (which is pretty much limited). All in all, it’s pretty much enlightening and evokes an even greater curiosity about my religion as I’m recently come to have an interest, it’s a good starting point I can tell, for further digging, for better knowing the many unknowns.