A look at Rupert Newman’s art through a Hindu-Islamic lens

Rupert Newman’s art strikingly recalls Hindu-Islamic visual culture; the bold colours, the geometric shapes, the reliance on a numerical system to create balanced beauty, as well as the study of animals, flora and fauna.

Image 1 - Babur Receives a Courtier c. 1580-85

If you have ever had the pleasure of stumbling upon one of Newman’s light projection installations, you’ll know the feeling. He transforms spaces with Projection mapping, turning bare walls or classical buildings into explosions of colour. At times, a building is suddenly morphed into something that resembles the kaleidoscopic palace of a Mughal king (see image 1).

Much like the art of the Mughal Empire, Rupert Newman’s work is a satisfying plethora of colours delicately laced together to create an orderly, calm-inducing composition, providing us with a fixed point for meditative contemplation.

The Mughals strongly believed that spirituality inhabited all objects of beauty, especially those that were indescribable in their otherworldly perfection. Those that could have only been attributed to the hand of God, such as the petals on a delicate flower or the immaculate wings of a butterfly. Henceforth, the creation of art in the Mughal Empire followed in the same vein, as a tribute to otherworldly powers.

In this way, the pages of Mughal manuscripts were filled with vibrant, symmetrical compositions that stemmed from the sacred art of Geometry. A crystalline effect occurred, creating a pattern enchanting enough to instil deep contemplation in the viewer. Subsequently, when meditated upon, these images had the innate power to bring the viewer closer to spirituality.

Through his image of a Flamingo bird, Newman’s also encourages us to take a moment and meditate. A method of grounding we ought to turn to increasingly in a hectic digital age. Poised and dainty atop its origamesque legs, the bird’s feather coat is segmented into geometrical shapes, its body becoming multifaceted like a diamond. The deep, vivid colours of the background compliment the lucidity of the bird’s body, like the prism created when sunlight shines through a precious stone.

Whether intentional or not, Newman’s art is a profound tribute to Hindu-Islamic cultural heritage. A beautiful one at that, reminding us that often the most beautiful things come out of cultural diversity and to always search for the magical quality in life.

Rupert Newman's Flamingo is on sale at CultureLabel  on 7 editions available with 33% of the proceeds going to The Hepatitis C Trust. 

About the writer
Katherine is 22 year old writer based in London. She graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art and is an advocate for anything made or done by women. If she’s not devouring books and drinking cups of strong black coffee in downward facing dog, she’s fighting the patriarchy through interviewing women artists or giving you her heartfelt feminist opinion. She believes that the key to life is to be constantly interested in the women around you, only when we are mesmerised by the existence of each other can we truly unleash our greatest human potential.
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