Farwa Moledina
Left: Farwa Moledina, Women of Paradise – Maryam (A.s). (2021). Digital Illustration, 30.5 x 40.7 cm. © Courtesy the artist Right: Farwa Moledina, Women of Paradise – Aasiyah (A.s). (2021). Digital Illustration, 30.5 x 40.7 cm. © Courtesy the artist

‘Women of Paradise’ – Farwa Moledina. Ikon Gallery

Ikon shows a new work, Women of Paradise (2022) by Birmingham-based artist Farwa Moledina (9 September – 13 November 2022). It is a study of the four women promised paradise in Islamic tradition, including Maryam (a.s), mother of Isa (a.s), otherwise known as Mary, mother of Jesus.

Farwa Moledina’s work is often a study of female Muslim identity. She is interested in how the western historical art narrative portrays the Muslim woman, and whether this has impacted ways in which Muslim women are viewed in the contemporary world.
Presented in Ikon’s Tower Room, Women of Paradise is a response to the singular religious narratives that dominate museums and galleries. Built on principles of neutrality, these spaces rarely contain depictions of Mary outside of the Christian imagination. Moledina’s work interrogates this assumption of neutrality by providing a different perspective on this figure. In the work, Maryam – a subject of equal cultural significance in the East – is presented alongside three female figures largely unfamiliar to the Western world. These are Aasiyah (a.s), Khadijah (a.s) and Fatimah (a.s).
Moledina’s work comprises four wooden frames which are hinged together, framing digitally printed textile and embroidery. The arched shape of the frames resembles a Mihrab – a niche found in the walls of mosques that indicates the direction of prayer. The textiles and embroidery are composed of patterns which relate to the identities of the women represented. For example, the pattern for Aasiyah (a.s) (the adoptive mother of Moses/Musa (a.s)) is made from images of rivers, Moses baskets, pyramids and Quranic verses relevant to her story.
The patterns are inspired by principles of Islamic design, such as recurrence, symmetry and abstraction. Islamic art encourages reflection of the self and the universe, and the exploration of what lies beneath the visual surface of this world. In the work’s textiles and embroidery, shapes are placed within other shapes until a pattern begins to emerge. These multi-layered compositions invite viewers to examine preconceived notions of Muslim women and Islamic tradition.

Please note the Tower Room is only accessible via a number of steps.

Moledina’s exhibition is accompanied by limited edition prints of each individual Woman of Paradise. Aasiyah (a.s) / Maryam (a.s) / Khadijah (a.s) / Fatimah (a.s), Giclée Hahnemühle Pearl, £100, edition of 10. In addition, a limited edition print is available of the four Women of Paradise. Women of Paradise, Giclée Hahnemühle Pearl, £150, edition of 10. Visit shop.ikon-gallery.org for more details.

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