Armand Point and Islamic Architecture

Looking closer at a large painting

This is a very large painting and you might expect the artist to use the space provided by the 'upright' canvas (portrait format) to show standing figures which we could view from top to toe. Instead he uses over half of the picture’s height to describe the archways, pillars, doors and windows of this traditional Islamic Courtyard House and the figures sit on the floor. 

This courtyard is obviously important to the artist, he has recorded it with great care. It depicts the unusual setting of being outdoors, while at the same time we are actually inside. It shows that the family are not in a public space, but are protected and relaxed in the heart of the home.


The brilliant white surface of the plaster walls contrasts with the rich reds and golden browns in the painting, but this isn’t a pure white; it is interwoven with colour, reflecting back the rich hues of the objects and textiles in the house. The wall rack of dyed yarns acts almost like a colour chart, picking up each of the strong vibrant tones used in the painting.


The artist Armand Point creates a sense of space and depth (perspective) which draws us right into the picture space. Look how he leads your eye in a zig-zag line from the foreground into the background by placing interesting objects within the picture space, and using strong warm colours to link them - you are drawn from the red cloth on the ground, to the blue braid on the loom, the orange yarn on the spindle, the child's red tassle and blue coat and the red flesh of the pomegranate.


He uses light and shadow to describe the space in the picture. Bright sunlight fills the top portion of the canvas, and tells us that the courtyard is open to the sky. An area of cool shadow indicates the shape of the building out of our eye-line and, as you look further into the house, the shade deepens, giving us a sense of receding right into the living rooms. The strong vertical lines of pillars and doorways mark out the space of the house, and strengthen the sense of perspective as you look into the background of the picture.

The poem below was written by Bradford Young Ambassadors working with poet Andrew McMillan, in response to the painting An Arab Weaver:

My threads are worn and
colours faded
Time has truly sailed
passed quickly.
Diluted by laughter breathing
and breath of hard work.
Future dead.
Hope leave me.
Silent silky hands
twittering away.
I can always see what’s going
on whether its inside or out,
some fabric left over can be
used for household use.
Been a long day at least
I am not alone.
Weaving process sees old
man’s patience.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Cartwright Hall Art Gallery | 
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