cubic chandeliers cover rooms with ornate geometric shadows

Anila Quayyum Agha, “A Beautiful Despair” lacquered steel and halogen bulb, 60” x 60” x 60”. Installation at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.

Pakistani American artist Anila Quayyum Agha uses her many varied experiences as inspiration for her incredible installation art. She builds intricate cubes that, when illuminated, project beautiful Islamic patterns on all sides of the room. Not only do these precious lanterns explore the visible dynamic between light and shadow, but they also embody other polarities such as masculine and feminine, religious and secular.

Originally from Pakistan, Anila has lived and exhibited her art in the United States since earning her MFA from the University of North Texas. “Having lived on the borders of different religions such as Islam and Christianity, and in cultures such as Pakistan and the United States, my art is deeply influenced by the simultaneous sense of alienation and transscience that informs the experience migrants,” Agha told My Modern Met.

Duality is omnipresent in his work. She uses strong, modern materials like steel to create ethereal, almost delicate objects that are overlaid with traditional Islamic geometric patterns. These lanterns project their ornate designs onto blank walls to fill public spaces with their story. “Blending highlights and shadows with solid forms and often transposing the resulting effects, my work aspires to be both perceptually calming and conceptually stimulating,” Agha continues.

Notably, these sculptural chandeliers also explore the relationship between 3D and 2D art when they create flattened patterns on the floors and ceiling of a room. However, there are also deeper conversations loaded into these enchanting installations. “My work is about reflecting on the nature of boundaries and alienation, and the power of dialogue to transcend the barriers of gender, race, religion, culture and natural environment that prevent true intersections and exchanges between people and cultures of the world,” she adds.

You can learn more about Agha’s creative practice by visiting her online portfolio and keep up to date with her latest installations by following the artist on Facebook and Instagram.

Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha creates incredible art installations that seem to work like cube-shaped chandeliers.

Intricate light boxes by Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha, “A Beautiful Despair” lacquered steel and halogen bulb, 60” x 60” x 60”. Installation at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.

Intricate light boxes by Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha, “A Beautiful Despair” lacquered steel and halogen bulb, 60” x 60” x 60”. Installation at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.

When illuminated, the sculptural artwork casts ornate geometric shadows across the space.

Intricate light boxes by Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha, “Shimmering Mirage”, lacquered steel and halogen bulb, 36″ x 36″ x 36″, 2016. Installation at June Collins Smith Museum, Auburn, AL, 2021. (Photo credit: Mike Cortez)

Intricate light boxes by Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha, “Shimmering Mirage”, lacquered steel and halogen bulb, 36″ x 36″ x 36″, 2016. Installation at June Collins Smith Museum, Auburn, AL, 2021. (Photo credit: Mike Cortez)

Intricate light boxes by Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha, “This is NOT a refuge! 2″, laser cut resin coated aluminum, bulb, 93″ x 58″ x 72″, 2019. Installation at June Collins Smith Museum, Auburn, AL, 2021. (Photo credit: Mike Cortez)

Intricate light boxes by Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha, “Liminal Space,” “67” x 63″. Installation at Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.

Intricate light boxes by Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha, “Red Wave” mixed media on paper (graphite, encaustic, embroidery, mylar), 13.75” x 15.75″, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist.

Intricate light boxes by Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha, “Sound of Silence – 1”, mixed media on paper (cut paper, beads, embroidery, mylar), 25” x 29.5″, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist.

Anila Quayyum Agha: Website | Facebook | instagram

My Modern Met has granted permission to feature photos by Anila Quayyum Agha.

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