Woman's Prayer - 120 x 180 cm. Original oil painting by Marta Banaszak.
The painting present elaborate stone-work of the mihrab, that is the prayer niche, in the women’s section of the very prestigious Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, Egypt.
Al-Azhar is an deeply influential center of political, intellectual debate. Its academy is the second oldest continuously run university in the world, founded in 975 AD. It is said that the mosques name is related to Islamic prophet Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah, she was given the title Az-Zahra- The Shining One.
The doubled, nearly psychedelic patterns of this mihrab, are about the complicated nature of women’s psyche, led by the cycles and changes of her body, synchronized with the cycles of the Moon. The optical illusion of the 3 dimensions, the depth, the womb-like shape reminds of the wondrous capability of giving life.
The Woman’s Prayer is an oil painting consisting of two 90x120 cm canvases (100% linen). The total size is 120x180 cm. The motive of the painting continues in the sides of the canvas, so does not require framing.
This painting was commissioned for Banaszak's personal exhibition in the “Galerie des Bronzes” of the Musée National des Beaux-Arts in Algiers, Algeria (April-September 2017). Under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and the Embassy of Poland, in the occasion of 55-years of diplomatic relations.
Artworks in this exhibition were inspired by secular and sacred Islamic architecture from the XIII to XX Century, the most stunning examples from Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, and modern Dubai.
The series of artworks “Illusion of Space” is based on the rigorous and precise knowledge of the mathematics, geometry and astronomy of ancient civilizations. For centuries the Islamic culture was far more ahead of its times, creating shapes and styles that we can call “modern”. There was simplicity, logic, purity.
The mirroring of images is a traditional stylistic device, with a deep spiritual meaning. In the Sufi tradition it is said that the human being, through his actions and thoughts, should purify his soul, to the point of becoming as clear as a mirror, to reflect God.