Laila Hossaini

The first part of my second year project is a selection of paintings in the Mughal miniature style of painting depicting widely recognisable images. My painting medium is an ode to the traditional Eastern masters who rubbed stone against paper, working tirelessly to render lines. My inspiration is an ode to the rich spiritual history of Iran.

I began this project as an attempt to translate specific memories of Tehran into the language of Mughal miniature paintings . However, I was faced with a wall in the form of a tunnel vision-induced question, “If you are painting Tehran, why are you not using the Persian miniature style?” The answer has become glaringly obvious: universality.

My associations with Tehran are universal. All eyes can see the sun and no branch is exempt from the grip of a perching bird, there is beauty in that common experience. The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar (died c. 1229), perhaps one of the finest examples of Persian poetry, led me to my paintings of pigeons .

The sun has also been a central element of several of my paintings in the Mughal miniature style. This luminary holds an important place in the spiritual history of Iran since one of Iran’s early religions is Mithraism, a solar-based polytheistic religion pre-dating Zoroastrianism in Iran in the 6th century BCE.

In order for tradition to remain alive in the contemporary world, it must incorporate universal ideas as expressed in the Conference of the Birds; I aim for my paintings to be informed by the past as well as speak to the present.

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