Solo Exhbition by Amin Taasha (Afghanistan)
This exhibition combines the faces of Afghanistan from a few centuries ago to the current affairs of today. Finding the romance in the art of the Khusan Kingdom, through the splendor of the golden age of miniature paintings, then tracing these connections across the footsteps of time to the turmoil of a country divided by civil war, intervention and vested interests. ‘Time Lapse’ tells of a people’s determination to survive through adversity, strife and suffering by adapting to the changing times in the same manner as the country’s rugged mountains stand up to the ravages of history. These artworks map out the passing of history, from the slow process of a clock marking the centuries to the ticking time bomb of the roadside explosive.
Afghanistan is not an ideal country. Everything that is seen there is not as simple as it first appears. What is reported in the media is only a small part of the overall picture, where social and political conflicts are usually motivated by economic elements; and these motivations can demand a high price to be paid by the people and contribute to further damaging the planet. When something makes sense to one type of mindset, it can still instigate a paradox, in that the social and political intelligence of one group can become the ignorance of another. When this ignorance accumulates it can potentially cause problems in the future. Intelligence has two sides, what becomes seen as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depends on which party we are in, often resulting in an inability to see alternative perspectives, which can lead to unstable conditions that may change at any time.
As a country located on the Silk Roads, Afghanistan has repeatedly experienced changes to its tradition and culture. At present this nation is at the crossroads of complicated times, while other countries move forward with technology and knowledge, extreme-minded groups are determined to prevent any progress and seek to push Afghanistan backwards in time. Should they regain full power, women for example will no longer be free to express themselves and explore. At present people who live near the extremist groups’ territories have to be careful in how they speak and act, this is especially true for minorities. When this extreme group was in power before, they would impose strict rules on society in the schools and places of gathering, banning picnics and kite flying, a mindset of total control even to the point of banning a certain color of socks that could be worn.
The country has not always been like this, although problems have perpetuated over the centuries, art and culture still find their roots and grow. Historical artifacts found in Afghanistan can be traced back to many different cultures, from Ancient Greece and Persia, to the domains of the Eurasian Steppe and of Mongolian nomads. Some of the artifacts range from the Bronze Ages, through the time of Alexander the Great at Baktria, to others discovered at Aï Khanum, Bamiyan, Mes Aynak, Begram, and Tillya Tepe. These architectural sites have provided new information that has revived discussions about Central Asian art, traditions and culture, especially in Afghanistan.
Classical art known as the Gendhara Period emerged in the Khusan Kingdom in the 1st century BCE, lasting until the 7thcentury BCE, The origins of the period began before the rise of the Islamic civilization in the region. During the 15th to 16th centuries, Afghanistan experienced a triumph of ‘Miniature Art’ with its most famous artist being Behzad. A new style of miniature painting developed in Herat in Western Afghanistan. The challenges of city life and the feudal culture of Herat created needs that made this kind of art flourish. These mini-artworks were inspired by stories of heroism, social struggle, romance, spirituality, warfare, court-life, as well as the economic and political conditions of daily life at that time, although the greatest influences of all were derived from literature and poetry.
This exhibition takes the ever-changing culture and art of one country and expands upon it, crossing the self-imposed borders of the mind to find new horizons and perspectives. While the daily atrocities take their toll, there is still beauty to be found, small victories of humanity and nature, milestones in an eternal calendar.
The calligraphy found in these artworks is in Persian script, which is read from the right to the left. The text is taken from classical works of Persian poetry and literature, which were the prominent influences for many traditional miniature paintings. Timeless classics, whose wisdom still echoes into the relevance of today.