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Untitled, Zeinab Feiz, 2023, acrylic on paper

©the artist

This interdisciplinary (design/textile and fine art) research explores the influence of Iranian carpet designs on abstract painting in Iran. The connection between Iranian aesthetics and carpet designs, deeply rooted in religious traditions, has similarities to early abstract artists who sought more spirituality through their work. The study aims to understand the resources of carpet design, create a personal archive, and analyze its authenticity and colonial influences.

The historical context reveals the evolution of contemporary abstract art in Iran, which emerged in the mid-20th century with a focus on western abstraction. However, after the Islamic revolution, representation became predominant, and it was only in 2014 that a comprehensive exhibition on abstraction took place. In contrast, Iranian carpet design have a long history dating back to ancient times and have been influenced by various ancient artistic periods.

The research includes producing artworks inspired by carpet designs and studying British and Iranian archives. The methodology involves case studies, archival review, and exploration through personal artistic practice to investigate the potential meaning of incorporating carpet designs in abstract paintings.

The significance of this research lies in its unique approach to studying ancient carpet designs as traditional abstract paintings rather than mass-produced artefacts. By analyzing the original designs and their quality in terms of aesthetics, the study seeks to shed light on the lost connections between ancient and modern Iranian abstract art. Additionally, the project aims to contribute to the contemporary history of Iranian abstract painting, challenging the current structures of abstraction and deepening the understanding of traditional Iranian art.

Overall, this research offers an insightful exploration of the link between Iranian carpet design and abstract painting, aiming to enrich the understanding of Iranian aesthetics and its influence on contemporary art.

Primary supervisor: Nadia Hebson

Secondary supervisor: Phoebe Unwin