DOLLAR SIGNS — Mumtaz’s Meditations On Root Of All Evil

by Samantha Anne Scott

I don’t spend much time thinking about money. I either have it or I don’t. I rarely use paper and coin. If I can get what I need using a magstripe, I do. But, as dirty as dough is, the almighty dollar has a transient quality that’s heard to beat, iconographically speaking.

And once Murad Khan Mumtaz gets his disciplined digits on said dough, all bets are off. Pakistani artist Mumtaz’s series of pecuniary paintings, “Torn With Fire”, are a striking meditation on antiquity and modernity, tradition and progress, and the constant and the transient. His painstaking technique and his almighty medium lend to “Torn With Fire” an ethereal, ominous quality that serves to explore beauty and virtue, as well as irony.

Excerpted from Mumtaz’s bio: “Murad Khan Mumtaz’s work is addressed to the limbo space between tradition and modernity. Most recently, using the centuries-old techniques of Indian and Persian miniature painting, he has intervened on the surfaces of iconic currency—America’s dollar bill and Pakistan’s discontinued one-rupee note—to raise the dead of history, national culture and commerce. Through the slow and disciplined application of tiny dots (pardakht) and lines (tipai) Mumtaz transforms the bills into uncanny objects whose ambiguous imagery is at once meditative and foreboding, nostalgic for a lost past and steeped in premonitions of losses yet to come. Like that of a forger or art conservator, his hand aspires to invisibility even as it implicates itself mark by mark.

A native of Lahore, Pakistan, Mumtaz received a BA from the National College of Arts, Lahore, and an MFA from Columbia University, which he attended on a Fulbright Fellowship.”

The below images are all works from Mumtaz’s “Torn With Fire” series.

LINKS:

Mumtaz’s website

ArtOnAir.org interviews Mumtaz about “Torn With Fire”

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