Arabesque. Khan Asa’d Pasha. Damascus. Syria. Acrylic on paper. 2001.
In 1999 I receive a scholarship from the Danish Institute in Damascus. I am going to study Islamic art.
I have always been fascinated by Islamic art. It is the form of art I feel most related to in my works. Its expression is very sophisticated because the motive is not figurative but abstract. Its meaning is not unambiguous but is open to interpretation.
Islamic music tends to be built up around a simple and literally monotonous but richly ornamented melody line. It is interpreted using a profusion of improvisations by a smaller ensemble made up of singers and several rhythmic and melody-carrying instrumentalists.
I am completely familiar with this way of building up a composition. I just do it visually.
After my stay in Syria the pictorial artist Nina Maria Kleivan and I are invited by the Danish Institute in Damascus to exhibit in Khan Asa’d Pasha.
We are going to show the works we have produced with inspiration from our stay in Syria.
A khan is a lodging house where the caravans arrived with their merchandise or that was used as a stopping-off point. Khan Asa’d Pasha is Damascus’ biggest khan and was an important station on one of the silk roads.
And here the expression “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle …” has its origin. When the camels were entering or leaving the khan, a big gate was opened. Otherwise the gate was closed, but in the bottom corner of the gate you find a little door about 1.20 m high, where people passed through, and this little door is called “The Eye of the Needle”.