The Opposite of Bling: Tania Nasir

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Master of geometry, artist Tania Nasir creates gleaming testaments to her faith using 24k gold and scant other simple materials. She gives Yalla a glimpse into her artwork.

Describe your art.

My art is ornamental and illuminated geometric design. I have tried to make my paintings stand out by using handmade 24K gold paint — a fundamental element in Islamic illumination — alongside other traditional pigments. My designs are inspired from different Islamic era buildings or different era Islamic designers: Topkapi Palace, Alhambra Palace, and the Taj Mahal to name a few.

Your art involves so much geometry, how much time do you spend measuring versus


The geometry defines the boundaries I must work within. It does take a lot of planning and compass work. I probably spend one quarter of my time with geometry and design, and the rest is spent drawing, transferring, and painting. Patience is the key. I spend countless hours just making the gold paint alone. An 80x80cm painting with an intricate design will take anywhere between 4-6 weeks.

Explain your process using 24K gold.

First, I crush the 24K gold leaf with honey or gum Arabic into fine paste for around 2 to 3 hours — yes, it takes that long — the finer the paste the brighter the paint will be. After the paste is finely ground, I pour water into paste, mix it, and then leave overnight to settle. The next day, the gold is settled at the bottom, and I empty and refill the water; repeating this process thrice. The final step is when the water is washed away, and I let the water fully evaporate from the paste. Once it’s dry, it’s ready to use. Once applied to paper, I burnish it with an agate stone to brighten it up.

To some, making art is a calling while for others it's a spiritual exercise. What is

it to you?

It is a complete spiritual journey and a form of mediation for me. Through our imaginations (khayāl), Islamic arts render the invisible divine visible.

Follow Tania on Instagram @artspace_tania or by email at

Published on March 2019

+971 2 491 9760

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