Behind the Seen

"This is of the tidings of the Unseen. We reveal it unto you."
—Qur'an 3:46

Acrylic and gouache on paper, torn; watercolour, shell gold 23.5ct and shell palladium on aluminium. 61x61 cm.

Date7 February 2017
Category, ,

In one basic way of describing the cosmos, ‘Âlam al-Shahâda عالم الشهادة, the World of Seeing or “visible world”, is contrasted with ‘Âlam al-Ghayb عالم الغيب, the World of Mystery or “invisible world”. In modern language they are sometimes described as the Conscious and the Unconscious. We are familiar with the former; it is forever filling our senses, concealing from us a subtler and wider reality that we only taste when we sleep.

In this piece inspired by a dream, the “visible world” is spelled out in the foreground mandala, which is torn to reveal a whole other world behind it, much like a painted theater background that collapses to reveal the reality behind it. This impression is reinforced by the contrasting treatment of the two planes. In the foreground I deliberately dulled the blue and used golden gouache for the dots, instead of the usual, much more gold-like metal leaf. The background on the other hand, unstructured and boundless, is painted over aluminium which shines through the watercololour, providing a mysterious depth. The myriad stars are painted in shell gold 23.5ct and shell palladium, then burnished, in order to truly sparkle.

Creation process

2 Replies

  • This is exceptional. Have been working on cosmology and had a few ideas on how to use “the word” to explain cosmological concepts.

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