Prior to the Taliban occupation of Kabul in August 2021, the gardens of Babur in Kabul offered solace to all. Kabulis simply refer to it as ‘Babur’s gardens’ (Bagh-e-Babur). Babur died in India in 1530, his remains later relocated to Kabul. His epitaph reads ‘Paradise is forever Babur Padshah’s abode’.
The artist, Arshi Irshad Ahmadzai would frequently go there for walks. Her series ‘Bagh-e-Babur’ offers a visual interpretation of these green spaces produced from memory as if viewed from above, perhaps from the point of view of a bird in flight. Outlined on a plain background, the compositions remind one of labyrinths, architectural floor plans, or gardens woven on carpets. The viewer is seemingly invited to fly over or jump between the differently coloured panels, inventing stories, dreaming, as children do, of a world miniaturised: gardens full of roses, molten gold streams, fountains and waterfalls, deep-blue square pools of lapis, tiny emerald chinar trees, palaces with copper domes, silvery moons, and golden crests.
Read more about the exhibition here.