"Black Arabic" from the Arabic Series of The Ben Musa Collection - "This series focuses on the perception that language is universal. Language can be seen by different cultures and races as the same. Using Japanese Chiyogami paper I (Anas Ben Musa) created the idea that when turned, the words almost look like Arabic script."
Over the past year, I’ve met and kept in touch with a couple of Muslim artists that reflect their spirituality through art and whose art absolutely captivates me. Anas Ben-Musa is the latest addition to that category and I wanted to highlight his work here.
I met Anas Ben-Musa at the impromptu after-party of Saturday night’s “A Jihad for Love” screening (make sure to read the review) with Parvez – yes, I saw the movie twice :-) While I’m at this, I’d like to say that this after-party consisted of Muslims (except for one) and I met quite a few wonderful people.
As we passed a location, I overheard Anas mention that this location was going to be exhibiting his art and so naturally, I had to ask. Anas pulled out his phone, did that magical stuff that we all do with our cell phones and handed me the phone. “Here .. just go through the pictures” he said as he abracadabrad through a few photos of his work. Me being very Harry Potter illiterate (translation technologically disfunctional) had to hand the phone back to him to show me once again how to go through the pictures and so he spent some time going over the pictures and explaining the ideas behind some of them.
He explained the Arabic Series and the photo above gives a description of the idea behind the art. If I had to pick a favorite series, the Arabic Series would be it due to the original thought behind the art but it is truelly hard to say that considering the rest of his work. Here are some works from a few of his series – I haven’t posted all of the series from the collectioin .. so please visit the website to view all of The benMusa Collection.
"Untitled" of Damascus Steel: "When I created the first of this series, a friend commented on the watery aspects of the painting. He described it as Damascus steel and at that moment, I knew what the series should be called. Since I was a young child, I have been entrhralled by the craftsmenship and skills of blacksmiths and steelmakers. Films and literature, like “Conan the Barbarian” and Jean Auels’ “Earthchildren” series dealt with fire and water as catalysts in tool and weapon making. The Damascus Steel series is my vision of that moment of creation, when the fires and the water form the steel and in a sense life itself. It is my vision of how the universe was sparked into creation."
"Orb" - Digital Art: Orb is a design originally engraved on a brass plate from Iran dating in 10th-11th century. The design originally was a direct mail piece for an ad agency that wanted to showcase their creativity. As with so many types of Islamic ornamental art, this design showcases Islamic art’s ability to adapt to contemporary mediums.
"Red Dusk" from the Metamorphic Fusion Series - "Formerly known as the "Batik & Stucco" series, this series is happy moments in my travels to Italy and the Mediterranean area. The textured papers remind me of the richness and colors used in the villas and homes along the coastlines. Marble (metamorphic rock), stucco and granite are immensely popular materials used throughout the Mediterranean, I added the drip technique to represent water's power to enrich and etch out the lives and homes of so many different cultures and peoples along the Mediterranean coastlines."
"Al Ghaib - The Tree of the Unseen" from the Spirituality Series - "I created this tree was a special time (June 2007). With each layer I performed my ablutions and prayed asking for guidance and connection. And with each prayer I connected more and more to the abstract then the original vision of Al-Ghaib. The opalescent features of the tree are dear and close to what I believe how Allah’s wisdom and power blends us into the fabric of existence. That Al-Ghaib unifies together what many perceive are diferent and opposite ideas. The paths might be perceived as different to us, but Allah sent the same message in many forms. Definition and interpretation of the word, Al-Ghaib: Literally means a thing not seen. But this word includes vast meanings: Belief in Allah(God), Angels, Holy Books (Torah, Bible and Koran), Allah’s Messengers (Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad - peace be upon them all), Day of Resurrection and Al-Qadar (Divine Preordainments). It also includes what Allah and His Messengers (peace be upon them) informed about the knowledge of the matters of past, present, and future e.g. news about the creation of the heavens and earth, botanical and zoological life, the news about the nations of the past, and about Paradise and Hell. — footnotes from “The Noble Quran” : English translation and interpretation, Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan."