Mahbuba Maqsoodi’s artwork “Sail” for Missio Munich invites the viewer to become a part of her artwork, of her vision of a diverse yet deeply interconnected, global human community.
In 2021, as part of the refurbishment of their Munich headquarters, the International Catholic Mission Society “Missio” decided to symbolically depict its guiding principle of an open house: Artists representing different religions and continents were invited to create a permanent art installation inside the building. Afghan artist Mahbuba Maqsoodi was chosen for the conference room – the heart of the building. Maqsoodi designed a two-part glass installation, spread over the two main walls of the room.
Entering the conference room, the viewer’s attention is focused on a group of bright, colorful figures on the left-hand wall which appear to be moving towards the entrance. This inspires the viewer to turn, revealing the second part of the installation. Stretched out like a sail, the artwork encompasses the entire rear wall, vibrant in color and reflection. Where, upon closer inspection, further figures are revealed. However, they appear more stylized, overlapping and flowing into one another, striving upwards like a surging wave, dissolving into light. Mirrors behind the glass enable the viewer to discover themself and their surroundings: An intertwined community in which everyone may feel included, expressing Maqsoodi’s belief, that all humans are connected to one another and their environment, regardless of their origin or religion. She skillfully incorporates the space into her design, using the sail to symbolize movement, departure, and new beginnings, as well as the global commitment of Missio, to support a diverse yet united Christian community. Her installation harmoniously combines figurative and abstract elements, striking a balance between providing inspiration and allowing space for individual interpretation.
Over the past four years, Mahbuba Maqsoodi successfully completed several major commissions using glass. Given her previous collaboration with the team at Derix Glasstudios, the artisans there were familiar with her artistic style. “Sail”, however, was intended to be different; she wanted to find a new artistic expression moving away from figurative paintings. Her aim was to highlight the characteristics of the hand-blown glass without discarding her signature style. Maqsoodi and the project team had intensive discussions to develop this new approach: Flashed hand-blown glass, etched in the finest gradations, air-brushed and painted with glass paints and contouring colors, cut freely and then laminated onto mirrored glass. The freely flowing shapes, chosen to enhance the feeling of movement within the design, required utmost precision from the artisans as each piece had to fit perfectly into the “puzzle” as it was assembled on the wall. Maqsoodi was actively involved in the production process at all stages, monitoring progress though frequent visits to the studio, and despite Covid-19 restrictions, she and the team at Derix Glasstudios were unwavering in their commitment to produce an artwork of the highest quality.