Life of Faith

Maryam Najd



Collection: Courtesy the artist.

Life of Faith is part of the series The Aesthetics of Sin. Typically working in series, Maryam Najd’s new series titled The Aesthetics of Sin follows in the longstanding tradition of the human nude. They are images of individuals in good physical health and fitness, studious of the human form, typical of formal Western training. They are however based primarily on images appropriated from the internet, rather than through observing a life model. In many other regions and traditions around the world, including various Islamic cultures, the nude is inhibited due to codes of modesty. In fact, depictions of all sentient beings might be inhibited under laws of Aniconism, in favour of calligraphic text and geometry. It thus follows that artistic training in such a context can follow prohibition of image-making with the nude as its subject, and often regulated by state or religious forces. An artist who had her formative training in the University of Fine Arts (Alzahra) in Tehran before circumstances demanded a relocation to Antwerp, Najd entered a new society and artistic scene with its own modes and traditions of image-making. The artist has used this series as a way to undertake a personal exercise in making the kind of images that existed outside the parameters of her formative experiences. They might be seen to be asking a subjective question about what ‘sin’ looks like. The paintings place the depicted individuals on a dark ground, and their bodies in low luminosity. They are not eroticised bodies per se, but still perhaps susceptible to a sexualised gaze. There is a tension that holds these images, between sensuality and restraint. With these paintings, personal and political tolerances are taken towards a moral grey area.

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