Sana Hirsch

Sana Hirsch


Natural pigments on Wasli paper, raised gesso gilding with 16.9ct gold, mother-of-pearl and 18ct shell gold
34 x 48cm


Natural pigments on wasli paper, mother-of-pearl & shell platinum
34 x 48cm

Moomal Moomal
Natural pigments on wasli paper, raised gesso gilding with 23.5ct gold
34 x 48cm

Artist statement

What is it that makes us human and what is the purpose of our existence?

My work is an exploration of these questions and what they mean to me. I believe that we as humans have an innate tendency to choose the good. And it is in our primordial nature to do so. We are dropped into the sea but must not get wet, as several poets of the past have stated. As such our aim in life is to strive towards perfection, towards the Highest Good. And this should bring us closer to God.

We find ourselves inhabiting the world bound by time and space within an orderly and harmonious universe. That is the reality of the human situation. We are all born and we all die, and in between we may think about life, our nature and the purpose of our existence.

My second year project – and indeed my perspective on life – has been greatly influenced by the Sindhi poet Shah Abdul Latif (1689-1752). His compendium, Shah jo Risalo is a gem in itself to me and deserves to be much better known. The following verse, in which he describes the cosmos, is the golden thread that ties all my pieces of artwork together.

One palace, one million doors

Countless windows in between

From wherever I look

The beloved is before me

The palace is the entire Book of Nature, the universe, the cosmos. To me it is about seeing unity in multiplicity. The paintings of the princesses in arches are an extension of the palace. They represent us, the flawed human being, the seeker.

My work is primarily rooted in the Persian miniature painting tradition. I feel that the technique is particularly well suited to conveying the essence of the poems as it has such a rich history of depicting profound poetry. I enjoy all the detailed and intricate work and the small-scale of the paintings which also makes the experience of viewing them more intimate. The empty space surrounding the painting on the paper is really important to me, because it gives the feeling of openness and freedom, and allows it to breathe.

One of the recurring symbols in the poetry is that of the pearl. The individual should search for real pearls which are of real value and will beautify the soul as opposed to the fake pearls which would lead to its corruption. I incorporated this theme into my paintings by using gofun shirayuki oyster pigment and mother-of-pearl pieces.

The number seven shows itself in various places throughout my work. There are seven heavens or celestial spheres in Islamic cosmology; seven is the traditional number of planets from our perspective on earth; seven princesses in the Risalo; and according to some traditions, seven stages to purifying the nafs, or the self.

As part of my research, I looked at traditional Japanese geometry as embodied in the Sangaku. These are wooden tablets displayed in Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines which contain geometric problems requiring solutions. I was drawn to these patterns because of their simplicity and their harmonious and balanced constructions which blend art with mathematics. They incorporate circles in varying proportions and possess a timeless beauty.

The circle is the perfect form. It is the symbol of wholeness and completeness. Just like the cosmos, we reflect the Divine Names, and just like the cosmos each one of us can become whole and complete in ourselves. In this sense, man is the microcosm (the little world) mirroring the universe, the macrocosm – or macroanthropos (the great man).

My art then is about the pursuit of becoming a balanced and complete individual while acknowledging that perfection is unattainable in our mortal lives because perfection only resides with God.


Sana Hirsch

Sana studied Maths and Philosophy for her undergraduate degree at the University of York. Inspired to further explore the ancient philosophers and the beauty of mathematics, she also sought to rekindle the joy for painting she felt as a child. Her search for truth and desire for a deeper understanding of the human condition led her to the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. Sana has been greatly influenced by the mystical poetry in Shah jo Risalo as well as Goethe’s Faust. With her paintings she hopes to invite introspection and contemplation.


Instagram: @sanahirsch