Ayan Farah's practice reflects upon themes of identity, visibility and oppression in a global world, often drawing upon her Somali-Swedish heritage and itinerant outlook. Within each painting disparate world-views merge, oppose each other, or co-exist, rejecting linear narratives.
Farah travels constantly to research, gather and grow organic pigments and dyes from across the globe: from Dead Sea mud, to Swedish clay, Mexican terracotta and home-grown indigo and marigold. Using these she treats vintage fabrics, often sourced from nineteenth-century homes and bearing traces of their history. Dying and bleaching may take months or years to complete, with materials at times exposed to sunlight for long periods in the open air.
The artist’s complex and experimental process imbues the work with an ephemeral quality that manifests both the passing of time and the essence of the location in which they were made. The resultant fabric is stitched together into bands, grids and geometric arrangements that draw equally on the language of abstraction and minimalism, and that of traditional woven African textiles. The emphatic materiality of her work creates tension with its strict formal qualities, exploring the relationship between nature and its representations.