Shâdh literally means: “isolated, separated, anomalous, irregular, extraordinary, exceptional, curious, odd, eccentric, noncanonical.” Basically, off-centre, which is the idea explored in this series where the designs are seen from a position located on their outer edge. Not only do they spell out “deviant”, but they deviate from my usual work both by their perspective and their colour scheme (as far from my natural inclination as possible…) My thanks to my friend Ibrahim for inspiring these pieces, by raising the question of what my mandalas would look like to a viewer who has not found their own centre.
Today, as far as I know, the word shâdh is no longer part of polite conversation: in deplorable circles it has become a hateful slur against LGBT people. It has a pedigree in that respect: in earlier days it was applied to Sufis, referring to the ecstatic utterances that resulted from an overpowering mystical state. Such exclamations were not only non-rational, they went beyond the pale of conventional religion. Famous examples are al-Hallaj’s “I am the Truth” and Bayazid Bistami’s “Glory be to me, how great is my majesty.” Then, as indeed today, the shâdh risked paying dearly for having a broader outlook on reality.