Pop-art Persian carpet a first

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 September, 2004, 12:00am

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then New York pop artist Keith Haring would have been pleased.

An inspired idea by an expatriate living in Hong Kong saw the artist's trademark drawings lovingly recreated in silk and cotton using centuries-old Persian carpet-weaving skills.

The outcome is a 1.2 metre by 1.8 metre rendition of one of Haring's poster-art paintings that took two months to produce and cost $12,000.

The work was commissioned through the Wyndham Street carpet dealers Persian Arts, who had the replica specially woven in a Karachi factory.

'This one customer just really loved the painting,' said sales assistant Steve Khan-Mohammad of the American client who approached him with the novel idea of incorporating modern art into a carpet.

The commission represents the first time the carpet dealers have attempted such a feat, although they regularly work with clients who want traditional patterns.

Haring died of Aids-related complications in 1990, aged 32, having achieved international fame in a career that spanned subway drawings to tribal art sculptures. In 1982, he worked in collaboration on a series of body drawings with the Hong Kong photographer Tseng Kwong-chi, who also died in 1990.

Mr Khan-Mohammad said it was possible to recreate paintings with about 90 per cent accuracy, although the vegetable dyes used in carpet weaving were never quite a perfect match. Styles ranging from Picasso's cubism to Warhol's pop art would lend themselves well to the medium, he said.

Before accepting the commission, photographs of the original artwork were sent to Pakistan, where manufacturers assessed whether they could complete the job.

'If it is a very difficult picture, it may be impossible to make it,' Mr Khan-Mohammad said.