THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Inspired by... blog

08 August 2013

Shirin Sahba's Mughal-inspired paintings

Beijing-based artist Shirin Sahba takes you around the world with her enchanting paintings. Her work is inspired by Mughal art so naturally I thought of the connection with the Library’s vast Mughal collection. Here she talks about her inspirations.

Shirin Sahba_Flora+Fauna


Shirin Sahba_Flora+Fauna detail



Shirin Sahba_The Falconer

Shirin Sahba_The Falconer detail

What is it about Mughal art that really inspires you?

My Persian heritage and a childhood spent in India deeply influence my aesthetic. I have always been attracted to the ornate beauty of the architecture, textiles, and illuminated manuscripts of that era. I especially adore miniature works with their stunning unity of pattern and colour, and the elaborate and painstaking detail with which they were so exquisitely rendered.

You are an active Pinterest user, how does digital content inspire you compared to seeing the real thing?

As an artist in this new and exciting digital age I think it is very important to harness the creative resources we have on the internet. But it is really only a supplement, and I feel it's necessary to discover ample real-life visual inspiration as well, I do this in part by traveling and exploring the world for myself. Pinterest is a great way to collect or bookmark the things that visually inspire me. These online tools can be very helpful - their immediacy and ability to foster relationships. I have even had a few collectors find me via Pinterest!

With online restrictions in China, is it difficult to access digital content for inspiration?

It can be a challenge for sure, but I usually find a way. Art, possibly because of its flexibility with interpretation, is one of the few things that transcend censorship. Thank goodness!

Your artwork was used for the award winning documentary film "The Gardener". What are your thoughts on how art and design influence film and/or vice versa?

I see the two as inextricably linked. All forms of visual art inform and inspire one another. I have always been incredibly inspired by old films of the 1950s and 60s, and often use visual references from my favorites. Film-maker friends also tell me they look to paintings for inspiration. Mohsen Makhmalbaf is a legend, and his award-winning film "Gabbeh" remains one of my favorites of all time. Each scene is like a painting unto itself... So you can imagine how thrilled I was when asked to do a painting for his latest film, "The Gardener"! 

Shirin Sahba_The Gardener

How does your blog Limonana help your art business?

It was through my blog that I realized how my audience is actually a global one. It's given me a voice, and in turn access to an audience that subscribes to see my work. It is so exciting because it becomes a sort of international gallery that transcends walls and allows all people to view and appreciate the work without the intimidation. I've met so many interesting people this way, both online and in real life.

What are your plans for the future? Might we see you and your artwork in the flesh in London?

I'm taking it day by day, painting what inspires me in the moment. This past year I've had offers for exhibitions in Spain, Italy and Beijing. I would absolutely love to show in London. It is on my top list of favorite places to show, so hopefully soon!

Shirin Sahba_Into the Mint

Images courtesy of Shirin Sahba 

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