The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Height: 770.000 mm
Width: 760.000 mm
ME OA 1995 11-8 1-5
Shirazeh Houshiary, Round Dance, a series of 5 prints, etching and aquatint
London, England, AD 1992
Inspired by the poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi
Born in Iran in 1955, Houshiary has lived in London since 1973. In her sculpture she has used geometric abstraction as a metaphor for a universal spiritual experience; through drawing on paper, canvas and copper, she has explored notions of the transformation of matter into energy and light, as shown in a series of four drawings from 1988 which were presented to The British Museum by the Contemporary Art Society.
This series of etchings, her first experience of printmaking, relates to five large drawings made earlier in 1992, entitled Enclosures of Sanctity. In both cases the work is directly inspired by the poetry of the thirteenth-century Persian mystic, poet and teacher, Jalal al-Din Rumi, who was a major figure in Sufi philosophy. Each of the images is made from five separate copper plates printed in succession, with the drawn forms made up of Arabic chants and prayers. The density of the layered script is deliberately intended to render it indecipherable so that according to the artist 'the word loses its meaning and form is born from this. It is revealing the invisible.' The etchings are accompanied by five of Rumi's poems, but not in the sense that the images are illustrations of the poems, and neither do the poems act as titles for the images.
The British Museum's series is from a proof set outside the edition of 20, printed at Hope (Sufferance) Press in London and published by The Paragon Press.
, Contemporary British art in pr (Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art / Paragon Press, 1995)