Faig Ahmed at his solo exhibition
Sharjah, UAE
Photo by
Bernard Jouaret
Faig Ahmed at his solo exhibition
Sharjah, UAE

Photo by Bernard Jouaret
Faig Ahmed is an internationally recognized artist from Baku, Azerbaijan, who represented Azerbaijan at the Venice Biennale in 2007. He is well known for his conceptual works that utilize traditional decorative craft and the visual language of carpets into contemporary sculptural works of art. His works reimagine ancient crafts and create new visual boundaries by deconstructing traditions and stereotypes.
Actual Tradition solo project | Kicik Qalart | Baku, Azerbaijan | 2012
Ahmed's artworks engage the viewers through it's unexpected marriage of traditional crafts, steeped in history, with hyper-contemporary, digitally distorted images often in the form of pixilation, three-dimensional shapes and melting paint that alters the pattern on the rugs. He employs computers to sketch his works and chooses intricate traditional methods of carpet-weaving techniques to printing his designs on carpets. In his work "Oiling" 2012, in the collection of Seattle Art Museum, his hand-woven carpet designs transform and appear as though the pigments in the rug are melting into a wavy pattern of oil on water.
Love Me, Love Me Not

Yarat Contemporary Art Space pavilion
La Biennale di Venezia 2013 | Venice, Italy
Photo by Fakhriyya Mammadova
Mr. Ahmed has exhibited his works worldwide including group and solo exhibitions in New York, Paris, London, Berlin, Moscow, Mumbai, Rome, Sydney and Dubai. In 2013, he was nominated for the Jameel Prize 3 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Film by Victoria and Albert Museum
Artis's studio | Baku, Azerbaijan | 2013
Jameel Prize 3 |Victoria and Albert Museum
London, UK | 2013
The Jameel Prize is an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. Its aim is to explore the relationship between Islamic traditions of art, craft and design and contemporary work as part of a wider debate about Islamic culture and its role today.

Faig Ahmed designs carpets as part of a diverse art practice which also includes painting, video and installation. His carpets are based on Azerbaijan's ancient weaving traditions. They are made by hand and, for the most part, follow a conventional design. In each case, though, Ahmed reconfigures part of the pattern. In Hollow, one corner of the carpet seems to have collapsed, while in Pixelate Tradition, much of the pattern has disintegrated into pixels. By disrupting traditional forms, Ahmed shows how, "Ideas that have been formed for ages are being changed in moments".
The show of shortlisted artists and designers | Victoria and Albert Museum | London, UK | 2013 - 2014
Recycled Tradition, 2014
«Jejim» carpet from Karabakh Azerbaijan, early XIX century (about 1826–1828)

This artwork was born from the depth of the "transformed carpets" concept. Initially, I had done research analysing recycled culture. It was all very impersonal. I started to work four months before production to find the right carpet. What I needed was a 150 to 200-year-old carpet to be cut into the form of a "recycled" symbol.

I was shown different options, but there was only one that caught my attention. I wanted to start cutting it immediately after leaving the workshop, but the carpet seller asked me if I wanted to hear the story of the carpet first. He told me that there are gypsies who buy and resell old carpets. They suggested visiting an old woman in south Azerbaijan who had a beautiful old carpet in perfect condition. Initially, this woman rejected selling it, because she had inherited this carpet from her grandmother and it was the only thing she had taken with her from her father's house when she got married many years ago. This was a tradition in the old days in Azerbaijan.

This woman couldn't take anything from her home, because her parents were against her marriage and only her grandmother had supported her, giving her this carpet and helping her run away with her lover. After several visits and after she knew the carpet would be sold to an artist, she agreed to sell it.
I also discovered that this carpet was a Garabakh carpet, which is in another part of Azerbaijan. This lady can't go there anymore, because this territory is occupied by Armenia and there are armed clashes between the two countries. So, when I took a cutting knife to cut the carpet, I couldn't do it. Suddenly, I realised that I'm also a hostage of tradition! This story's impact on me was so huge that I couldn't destroy this carpet with my own hands.

I then passed it to an art production company to prepare it for me and didn't tell them how old it was. After the work was done and Recycled Tradition was sent to Holland for the exhibition, I tried to find this lady. She had moved to another city, and that happened all of a sudden. I wanted to talk to her. I spoke to her on the telephone before it was processed and she told me that she wanted to see the result. Maybe she saw the artwork and doesn't want to talk to me anymore?

Exploring inwards, Aida Mahmudova and Faig Ahmed solo projects
Louise Blouin Foundation | London, UK | 2015
The artist's deep interests and avenues of personal inquiry are connected to world religions, mystical practices, ancient scripture, calligraphy and patterns. In the introduction to his first major European solo show, "Points of Perception" at Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Roma, the curator for the exhibition, Claudio Libero Pisano states that the artist "deals with the question concerning the perception of truth" and creation of." He describes Ahmed's aesthetic as "daring and futuristic", and yet "faithful to ancient methods".

Points of Perception
MACRO Testaccio Pavillion 9/A | Rome, Italy
Curated by Claudio Libero Pisano
10 February — 29 March, 2016

The Wave | Mosque prayer carpet | 2016
"Points of Perception" project
Photos by Alessandro Vasari and Giovanni De Angelis
The Limits | Rug, nails and blood | 2016
Photo by Alessandro Vasari and Giovanni De Angelis
The Limits | Documentation of the art practice | 2016
Although Faig Ahmed works in other mediums–painting, video and installation, he is best known for his fantastical woven pieces based on the classical Azerbaijani carpet, which is a cornerstone of the artist's cultural heritage…Today, Ahmed carries on this artistic tradition but not with ink and paper; instead, he remakes his carpet designs on a computer, generating optical illusions that transform the finished work into something entirely contemporary, which can express a three-dimensional or even kinetic quality.
Linda Komaroff,
Curator of Islamic Art and Head of Middle Eastern Art, at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art
Pennsylvania College of Art & Design | Lancaster, USA | 2017

EKVATION [ Equation ]
Textile Museum of Sweden | Boras, Sweden
Curated by Medeia Ekner
6 May — 24 September, 2017

10 [–35 ] | Handmade woolen carpet | 2016
"Equation" project
Image Courtesy of Textile Museum and Faig Ahmed
Film by Neta Norrmo
Equation exhibition at the Textile Museum | Utställning Ekvation på Textilmuseet | Borås, Sweden | 2017
Equation | Ekvation

In the Equation exhibition, art, science and metaphysics are linked together in spectacular three dimentional installation. Patterns are distorted, broken up, moved around, conquered, taken over, demolished – and amongst all of this, new stories are created. They claim their own space within rooms, sometimes taking them over, as occurs with Equation.

[It is what It is]
Yarat Contemporary Art Centre | Baku, Azerbaijan
Curated by Björn Geldhof
11 November, 2016 — 13 February, 2017

Social Anatomy | 360 individuals in live action of traditional behavior with traditional objects in symmetrical pattern
Baku, Azerbaijan, 2016
"It is what it is" project
Photos by Patrick Verbruggen and Fakhriyya Mammadova
Mr. Ahmed's works have been recently exhibited in several museum group shows all over the United States, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Bellevue Arts Museum, Washington; the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design; Boca Raton Museum of Art; Newport Art Museum; Honolulu Museum of Art; as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (MACRO), the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania and the Textile Museum of Sweden, Borås, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul Turkey, New Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.
Hannah Ryggen Triennial New land | Trondheim, Norway | 2019

Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design Honolulu, USA | 2019
Image courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
Photo by David Franzen

Shangri La artist-in-residence
The three works on display at Shangri La included a traditional Azeri carpet pattern that dissolves into a lush blue mass, an epic illusionist play on perspective, and an "infinite" repeated pattern inspired by Buddhist mandalas. The artworks are playful but also challenge assumptions about form, function, and the nature of craft.

Shangri La artist-in-residence and exhibition of site-specific works created for Shangri La in the Textile Gallery. An exhibition of work was also on view at Shangri La's Arts of the Islamic World Gallery at the Honolulu Museum of Art
Faig Ahmed | Shangri La Artist-in-Residence
Honolulu, USA | 2019
Nonvisual Language | The George Washington University Museum & Textile Museum Washington DC, USA | 2018
Photo by William Atkins
Faig Ahmed and Camille Ann Brewer (MFA, MLIS) Curator researching Shipibo Conibo textile from 17-19 century
George Washington University, Textile Collection from Storage
Washington DC, USA | 2018
Young man preparing for sacrifice ceremony and ceremonial musical instrument with secret pattern [ Icaros ] | Shipibo Conibo People of Amazonian Selva
Caco Macaya village, Peru | Images from Faig Ahmed's traveling archive | 2018
Istanbul Modern's International Artist Residency Program
Istanbul, Turkey | 2019
With the support of the Istanbul Development Agency (İSTKA), Istanbul Modern invited artists from around the world to Istanbul. Called the "International Artists Residency Program", this first of its kind project by a museum in Turkey brought together artists from diverse cities around the world with artisans from Istanbul.
Guests: Artists and Craftspeople | Istanbul Modern
Istanbul, Turkey | May 2019
The exhibition focused on the experience gained by guest artists during their collaboration with craftspeople who represented some of the most important crafts in the production culture of Istanbul over the centuries, and thus also scrutinized the permeability between art and crafts. The works that they produced during the program were exhibited at Istanbul Modern in 2020.
The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art | San Luis Obispo, CA, USA
Curated by Emma Saperstein
12 February – 15 May, 2022

Doubts | Handmade woolen carpet | 2020
Gautama | Handmade woolen carpet | 2017
Photo by Heraldo Creative Studios
Suzu, Japan
Photo by Kichiro Okamura
23 September — 12 November, 2023

Door to Yourself | Cedar tree, sequin, aeolian harp | 2023
Door to Yourself | Cedar tree, sequin, aeolian harp | 2023
This work is based on the sacred and metaphorical meaning of the "gate" in Japanese Shinto and the practice of Zen. The work stands between sunrise and sunset. These are the two aspects of life. Passing through this door, you are accompanied only by music and wind waves on the gate's surface. Artwork also includes the ritual itself when the viewer celebrates the moment of Zen passing through yourself. After all, you are the gate.
In the realm of Shinto tradition, the placement of Torii gates carries profound symbolism. As the very essence of their spiritual practice revolves around these gateways, local priests are compelled to orchestrate a sacred ceremony. These gates serve as metaphors for the passage between different worlds, a threshold through which not only humans but also other mystical entities may wander. Hence, the ritual serves as a protective ward, sealing the gates against unwelcome spirits and ethereal beings.

Photo by Kichiro Okamura
Door to Yourself | The Oku-Noto Triennale
Suzu, Japan, 2023
Maraya Art Centre | Sharjah, UAE
Curated by Cima Azzam
17 February — 1 August, 2024
For more info

Shirvanshah | Handmade woolen carpet | 2024
Photo by Bernard Jouaret
The newly commissioned artwork Consciousness in Flux brings this dichotomy to another, broader level and investigates another dimension in Faig Ahmed's most current, research-based work "Collective Pattern" that explores the physiological and psychological mechanisms of perception.

The newly created work asks a fundamental question: "How do we perceive art?". By doing so, it unravels the intricacies of art's impact on the human experience via a data-driven head device that measures a visitor's brain activity in real-time. The brain's response to artistic stimuli, namely the surrounding works on display by Faig Ahmed, is recorded here. These carpets lie in a dark space between two projections on either side of the gallery space. Visitors are asked to participate and put on a headset while viewing the works, thereby witnessing an accurate recording of their brain activity when observing his art.
The patterns describing the visitors' brainwave activities are generated by including data from EEG, ECG, EMG and eye-tracking technologies. The resulting data waves — that very much resemble the intricate weavings of carpets — result from the interaction between the viewer and the artworks. This exploration between mind and matter explores an unknown territory of neuroscience and art, offering a deeper understanding of the profound connection between perception and reality.
Consciousness In Flux | Maraya Art Centre
Sharjah, UAE, 2024