This article is a part of the project 'Promotion of the Ottoman Cultural Heritage of Bosnia and Turkey' which is organized by Monolit, Association for Promoting Islamic Arts and supported by the Republic of Turkey (YTB - T.C. BAŞBAKANLIK Yurtdışı Türkler ve Akraba Topluluklar Başkanlığı / Prime Ministry, Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities).
Minela Asani-Omerovic, Cognisition II - Allah / Courtesy of the Artist
Minela Asani-Omerovic was born in Split in 1982. She completed the Secondary School of Applied Arts at the Department of Sculpture. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts at the Department of Art Education, with a topic 'Contemporary View of Islamic Art'. With its series of works inspired by Islamic calligraphy, she is the new name on the contemporary Islamic art scene in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Your art education started at high school, what attracted you to start studying sculpture and then later to focus on studying painting at the Academy of Art?
Yes, my art education began in the Secondary School of Applied Arts, where, I can say with pride, I was able to acquire a lot of knowledge and skills in the field of art. Those were the years when I would often spend between 10 and 12 hours working with dedication. Sculpture quickly become my great passion. It was different from other courses. I could even say it is more complex form of visual art which offers a wide range of artistic and creative expression. By saying this, I thinking of its multi-dimensional form and all other aspects of visual expression. Painting however seemed somewhat "eased," with its two-dimensions and colour as a basic building element, it soon became a challenge for me, more than form and volume. Nevertheless, the final decision to enrol at the Department of Art Education, to study painting, was a great dilemma for me and I could say, in a way, it was a life-changing breakthrough since it influenced the further course of my life. I also became aware of the need to expand and acquire new knowledge on a wider area of art and ultimately professional pedagogical knowledge that I will be able to share as a teacher with new generations.
Minela Asani-Omerovic, Silent Melody I - Allah / Courtesy of the Artist
Minela Asani-Omerovic, Silent Melody II - Allah / Courtesy of the Artist
You graduated with the theme 'Contemporary View of Islamic Art'. Where does your interest in Islamic art come from?
My encounter with the classical form of Islamic art took place during my studies. I got to know the supremacy of the Qur'an and I had a chance to learn more about Islamic calligraphy, created by great scholars. In fact, I was impressed by mysticism, calmness and the predominance of classical works of Islamic art. The indescribable desire was born to search and explore the mystical dimension that every Arabic letter (harf) has as a visual element.
In your work, you rely on Islamic calligraphy. Can you tell us more about your paintings? In which direction is your artistic research of Islamic calligraphy headed?
My work relies on classical Islamic calligraphy to the extent that I have been given an inspiration and intense need to move the boundaries, to get rid of the rigid, clear and precise rules of expression without underestimating or distorting the value of classical art. Unfortunately, in our region, Islamic art is often undervalued so my work resulted from the need to bring this art into a contemporary context. My abstract paintings are proof that art is absolutely universal and that there are no boundaries, as boundaries exist only in our heads. My work is a contemporary discussion about moving the borders, demolishing prejudices, giving the alternative to thoughts and visions.
Minela Asani-Omerovic, Meeting - Mohammed / Courtesy of the Artist
Minela Asani-Omerovic, Melody - Allah / Courtesy of the Artist
Minela Asani-Omerovic, Left: Cognisition I / Right: Cognisition II / Courtesy of the Artist
In your paintings you use Arabic Kufi style. Looking at the history of Islamic calligraphy in Bosnia, one can notice that the Kufi style has not been affirmed by any means, so why did you choose this style?
Yes, that's right. Kufi style is the basic building element, which I use, an interesting dimension for the construction of my work. It is a style that offers impressive possibilities and values in the artistic sense. By taking advantage of the opportunities that it provides, by reconfiguring and creating, I have come to a satisfying goal of minimalist approach. It is important, if not the main segment in my work, to question the ultimate liberation of words and letters and simplify their forms to lines, composition and colour, which is the opposite of the classical approach in Islamic art. The colour in the correlation with the lines forms the shapes, therefore the coloured shape becomes a word and the border of each letter create a shape. Throughout the whole concept of my work, the divine name Allah is revealed as the beginning and the end, it (in its form) is the main artistic subject of my inquiry.
You mentioned a minimalist style in your paintings, to what extent is your work synthesis of European influences and Oriental traditions?
What is present in my work complements both traditions, taking from each what is most characteristic. Under the influence of Oriental tradition comes the basic inspiring part as a starting point, the oriental culture with emotions that it carries; while the freedom of action when it comes to colours, and ease in the construction of form and pure geometry is the combination of Europe and the Orient in my work.
Minela Asani-Omerovic, Hidden and Visible I - Allah / Courtesy of the Artist
Minela Asani-Omerovic, Hidden and Visible II - Allah / Courtesy of the Artist
Minela Asani-Omerovic, Hidden and Visible III - Allah & Mohammed / Courtesy of the Artist
Can you share with us the direction of your further artistic expression development?
Art is unpredictable. Over the past few years for me it was a strong inspiration and subject of research. I believe that I have only "scratched" the surface of this inexhaustible source of creative activity. My work will certainly go in the direction of sculpture, conceptual art, there is really no limit to artistic activities.