It’s been over a year since the Triton Museum of Art showed exquisite pieces based on the Islamic faith. The Echoes of Islam exhibit, which featured 14 artists wearing their religion on their sleeves, was a masterful portrayal of faith through art.
Now, one of those artists, Salma Arastu, has her own show at the museum. Arastu’s “Salma Arastu: Celebration of Calligraphy” combines Arabic calligraphy with painted canvasses, and each painting is accompanied by a plaque containing a verse from the Quran.
It’s artistic and meaningful, taking subtle colors and fluid brushstrokes and blending the two to form thought-provoking images that fill the museum’s rotunda.
“My journey beings with the line, as it is the ray of light for me,” says Arastu. “I celebrate energy and movement of line in my paintings, drawings and sculptures. I have always followed an inner rhythm and, by listening to it, I draw with continuous line, sometimes forming figurative compositions with connected figures and other times abstract formations and now it is [a] continuous flow of Arabic Calligraphy line, which is lyrical and melodious.”
The centerpiece of it all, a large symbol reigning over a canvas with circular imagery, is heavily based on Arastu’s beliefs. The symbol, the Arabic word for Allah, towers over painted dots representing the universe. In the simplest of terms, Allah presides over the universe, watching over and protecting all creatures and beings.
“I paint to express the prayers of my heart, and intend for the energy of the calligraphy, powered by the positive messages from the texts, to reveal the joy and celebration that I experience while creating them,” says Arastu.
Another piece in the show, a circular acrylic painting on wood with hues of green, blue, red and white, entitled “So That You Know Each Other: I,” comes with the following verse from the Quran. “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (He who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and in well acquainted (with all things). Al-Quran 49:13.”
Arastu’s flowing lines, simple palette and creative use of space speaks a universal language with themes of the human experience, collaboration and, at the very core, love and spirituality.
Salma Arastu: Celebration of Calligraphy runs through Nov. 16 at 1505 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara. Visit http://tritonmuseum.org/exhibitions_Arastu.php for more information about the show and www.salmaarastustudio.com/Information.html to learn more about the artist. An artist reception at the museum is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.