Ahmed Mater brings together scientific references, X-Ray film images and religious symbols from both the objective and subjective spheres in order to reveal an essential humanity which is highlighted in the series Illumination, begun in 2003.
Inspired by the process of illumination of religious texts, the Saudi Arabian artist prepares his paper in a traditional way, using an ancient technique which involves knowledgably blending the juice of a pomegranate with tea- a perfect alchemy which renders an extraordinary luminosity to the background. He also employs some of the characteristic elements of Islamic art: such as the geometric designs and Arabesque motifs found in Medieval Egyptian and Syrian versions of the Qu'ran.
Using the style of the initial pages of the holy book as a model, he has created a diptych in the piece Illumination XI & XII (2010) following the traditional principals of symmetrical composition. Instead of abstract shapes we see two X-Ray images of a human torso – on either side a man and woman are shown face to face, conveying a relationship which counterss dialogue with opposition.
Overturning the taboo of a representation strictly reserved for the Qu'ran which itself engendered the emergence of the art of calligraphy and Islamic ornamentation, Ahmed Mater unveils by contrast the human body captured by the X-Ray image in its essential skeletal form. Beyond the electromagnetic rays which reveal the human body, the artist conceives his work to be an objective expression of an inner self magnified by a light which he desires to bring to the world, something which is without doubt the common denominator of all religion.
Translated by Theodora Taylor