Anoka Faruqee's early paintings are the product of an insistent practice of conceptual exploration. In a series of diptychs from 2002-2006, Faruqee first made a painting through spontaneous pouring or loose mixing of colors on canvas, then meticulously replicated it by analyzing complex color shifts and reproducing their effects through highly controlled mark- making. The gestural "original" and labor-intensive "copy" hang together as diptychs.


In the "Fade" paintings, begun in 2006, Faruqee mixed hundreds of subtly shifting colors to create luminous fading effects in which patterns seem to gradually disappear into the painting's ground color. The illusion looks like the result of a translucent airbrush or painterly spill. But in fact these works were created slowly and deliberately, one handmade "pixel" at a time.


The handmade "pixels" are tripod or asterisk forms derived from Islamic tile geometry, but painted freehand, without the use of rulers or grids. For Faruqee, who is second generation Bangladeshi-American with an Islamic heritage, using the tripod or asterisk form is not about cultural posturing.


In her words, "Because someone centuries ago spent a good amount of time playing with a ruler and a compass, I can lift from that tradition a kind of readymade handmade pixel. Those experiments were indeed the mathematical forerunners of current digital technology. I'm not interested in merely quoting or "describing" these forms, forever suspending them in their historical moment. I use them in the present tense for what they are and what they can become."


Faruqee paints her modular gestures on subtly increasing curves, starting only with a loose plan. Many decisions about the shape and direction of the curves happen during the act of painting. The paintings thus unfold in the making, revealing an unpredictable, paradoxical order. The "handmade pixels" become metaphors for a process that balances control and accident, mirroring both the systems of growth in nature and the undulating space of mathematical computer modeling.


In 2012 Faruqee embarked on a new direction in her work in collaboration with her husband, David Driscoll. These newer works can be seen on their joint page on our website here.