An immediate favorite at the reopened Seattle Asian Art Museum. Jasmyne Keimig
Last weekend saw the (re)opening of the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. After a two year, $56 million restoration taken on by local architecture firm LMN, the renovated museum is now airy, filled with light, and feels throughly modern. While I’m in love with many objects and paintings on display, the one my brain keeps mulling over is “Oiling,” by Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed. Part of the exhibition Be/longing in the new extended gallery space in the museum, the knotted wool rug is on display near Do Huh Suh’s stunning “Some/One” armor. It might be easy to get distracted by Suh’s sculpture, but I encourage you to sit with Ahmed’s piece as well.
Partnering with a workshop of women who do traditional weaving, the artist uses carpets—symbols of luxury, ritual, and fine art in the Middle East—to think about the object’s traditional use and meaning in this contemporary era. In “Oiling,” the top of the carpet begins in a traditional-looking pattern. But as your eye moves down, the patterns break down, becoming swirls of color. What I like most about Ahmed’s work is his toying with convention and his manipulation of wool to emulate something that might be seen in a paint spill or computer screen. Its glitchy, handmade “failure” reminds me of some of the work in that post-analog art show curated by Anthony White last year.
While the piece currently hanging at the Asian Art Museum stays within the confines of the rug’s rectangular shape, some of his other works bleed off the original structure, pooling onto the floor below or warping so that it leaps off the frame.
If you didn’t get a chance to see Ahmed or the rest of the Asian Art Museum this weekend, SAAM is starting their regular hours on Wednesday. Don’t miss it.