Maliha Teparic, a female Muslim artist from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who is attending the 23rd Tehran International Quran Exhibition to showcase her works of art, made the remark in an interview with the International Quran News Agency (IQNA). Her answers to IQNA’s questions come as follows:
IQNA: First of all, could you please introduce yourself and briefly talk about your educational background?
Teparic: My name is Maliha Teparic, from Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am a painter. I finished my academic studies in BA in the field of painting in 2002. I received my master’s degree in Islamic calligraphy, with a focus on its history, traditional to contemporary. Now I am doing my PhD in the history of arts about Bosnian calligraphers. I also work as an assistant professor at the International University of Sarajevo.
IQNA: Would you explain about your art works, some of which are on display at the ongoing International Holy Quran Exhibition in Tehran.
Teparic: As I mentioned earlier, I am a painter even though I have practiced traditional calligraphy. I use Islamic calligraphy as the subject of my paintings. Most of them are Kufic Style. It attracts me because it is so strong, powerful, and expressive. In my artworks, sometimes compositions are more readable, and sometimes more abstract. So I am experimenting to see how far I can abstract the letters while they are still connected with the original message they carry. Therefore, my compositions are not just about the form as there is always religious meaning and symbolism in my paintings.
IQNA: What motivates you to put emphasis on the meaning in your artistic creation, especially when it comes to Islamic calligraphy?
Teparic: In fact, if one respects just the form or body, without taking soul and content into account, it would be void of sense. I have also been studying Sufism, which is full of signs and symbols, and which is reflected in my compositions as well.
IQNA: Do you consider yourself as an artist who seeks to convey a message for the promotion of a particular cause, such as Islamic faith?
Teparic: I was born into a family with Islamic faith, but I have never been to a religious school. Islamic tradition in Bosnia dates back to more than 500 years and is naturally welcome by Muslim community. Islam is a divine doctrine for all the time as there is neither beginning nor end for Allah the Almighty. To answer your question, I must say that, as a Muslim, I am committed to my faith in a general way. However, I am, above all, an artist. It gives me a great pleasure to present my artworks to the public and to help spread spiritual beauty, existing in Islamic art.
IQNA: Art is generally considered to serve as a way to express human feelings and emotions par excellence. What do you think?
Teparic: Art has always been at the service of something. In the older age, we witnessed that art was in the service of religion. Today art could also be at the service of different issues including engaged art, and many other things pertaining to human life. So art serves as a way to express what we are thinking, how are we are feeling, what we like and do not like.
IQNA: What is the key message you try to convey through your works of art?
Teparic: I have done my best to show, through my paintings, that Islam is beauty itself. That also constitutes my main goal to fulfill by means of art. From my point of view, Islam is love and beauty par excellence.
IQNA: Let’s move on to the issue of the Muslim community in Bosnia. How would you describe their religious practices and observances?
Teparic: We Muslims in Bosnia, like other Muslims around the globe, take part in religious observances and ceremonies, go to mosques, celebrate Islamic festivities. Nowadays, on the occasion of Ramadan, there is a special atmosphere in such a way that you can feel the holy month in every corner. In addition to Muslims, my country is also home to Christians, Orthodox, and Jews.
IQNA: How do you find the Tehran International Quran Exhibition?
Teparic: As my second visit to the exhibition, I should say that it is really great to get together different kinds of artist from various countries. What I like most about the event is that Iran is keeper of Quran and Ahl-ul-Bayt (AS), the two invaluable things that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) entrusted to us, urging us to keep them for good. This is what Iran is really doing.
IQNA: Thank you. I wish you a pleasant stay in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Teparic: Thank you