“After having published three books of poetry, I now present an exclusive collection of paintings that manifest a visual dimension of my Sufi poems.

The act of painting has been unexpected for me. Just like the composition of my poetry, it suddenly happened after a period of retreat… Having had no conventional training, it is through the luminous corridor of the Sufi tradition and my Malian~Gabonese cultures that my pens and paint brushes wander in praise of the Beloved.

In 2004, while reading a poem from Nocturnal Light, I was submerged with inner images of immense beauty so suddenly I picked up paint brushes, paint tubes and I transcribed these impressions upon canvas… Thus, my paintings start with the composition of a poem whose imagery profoundly lingers with me; that eventually compels me to paint it. Since this artwork took form from Sufi poetry, my literary and visual expressions unfold in oneness; they capture states the prostrated soul encounters as it walks out of self in quest and honor of the Divine.

I’m more so inclined to create from some vast feminine state in which definitions, details and separations seem to dissolve effortlessly and then assume anew differentiation, alternately or simultaneously.

I see no division between these creative activities and the rituals which come with my practice of Islam, especially prayer. When I soak my brushes in water, it takes me back to ablution yet this time, instead of preparing myself to step upon the prayer rug, it’s my paint brushes that will “step” upon canvas, they become instruments I do not view outside of my body… At that moment, the delicacies of the composed poem unravel upon canvas. Each brushwork seems to release some language whose beauty expands as it becomes known. The alternate smoothness and wildness inherent to the act of painting is a mirror of the Returning process I am subjected to through existence.

I devote much time to the creation of all my visual Sufi poems regardless of their sizes or themes, they are revealed according to my level of patience, therefore the creative process exposes me to glimpses of the utmost beauty. Each creation dictates whatever is to be known so I aspire to honor it with all its infinitesimal details.

Through these visual Sufi poems, I aim to render tangible the nobleness of spiritual emotions and the innate richness of the human soul. I accomplish this by using a combination of calligraphy and emphatic circular, smooth strokes symbolizing the movements that culminate in mystical ecstasy.

The exuberant colors selected for each piece reconcile humanity with the soul’s innate subtlety and majesty. The luxurious ornamentation in my paintings is deliberate, it evokes the Islamic divine tradition of our longing to know The Hidden Treasure. The design of petal-like shapes acknowledges embodiment, our physicality with the struggle to subject it to our Essence amidst the turbulence of self and materiality.

Creation in itself, is never interrupted; there always is room for Ruh (as), the Spirit of the Beloved to pervade, to enhance and therefore to impart more Joy and a greater Love. I would say that all these creations are but remnants of a sweet Reality that completely loses me.”

~Aïda Touré © 2008-2016