Let there be Noor: The Poetry of Half-Lit Visions: A dual presentation of paintings and drawings by Iranian artists Moslem Khezri and Abbas Nasle Shamloo

28 June - 3 July 2022

SARAI Gallery is pleased to present Let There be Noor: The Poetry of Half-Lit Visions as part of our Karavan Projects; a dual exhibition of paintings and drawings by Iranian artists Moslem Khezri and Abbas Nasle Shamloo, featuring a selection of figurative works by Khezri's and faux-representational landscapes by Nasle Shamloo.

Both artists belong to the same generation of Iranian painters and their art shares several traits. Both Nasle Shamloo and Khezri are keen observers of their immediate environments from which each artist draws inspiration, using a great deal of sensitivity and virtuosity to turn them into formal containers for deeper, underlying themes. They also share a preference for restrained color palettes and a sense of compositional focus and order reminiscent of great Iranian filmmakers. Most interestingly, while the subjects might differ, muted natural light and the way its presence is reflected in each artist's form and concept, play a dominant role in defining the space quality and overall mood of the paintings. This is the kind of sensitivity that one can hardly encounter in contemporary painting today.

Figurative southern artist Moslem Khezri is represented with two series of works: an earlier series called A Cursive Induction and his more recent, large series of works focusing on schoolboys and the educational environment called We Keep reviewing. Both series show Khezri's long interest in the human body. A Cursive Induction consists of largely monochromatic works where clusters of human figures appear in unexpected juxtapositions with living or dead domestic animals, or structures, leading the viewer's mind to try and establish different meanings and narratives out of each picture. His paintings and drawings from "We Keep reviewing" depict various empty and populated scenes of an all-boys school in Tehran, each sensitively staged with narrow, autumnal sunlight that highlights the tenderness of youth and evanescence of memory. Thanks to his first-hand experience with the educational environment, these images ultimately transcend time and location to become visual playfields for schoolboys' figures to interact with and transform their spaces. Nasle Shamloo, on the other hand, addresses our modern alienation from nature. His green, cloudy, and mysterious landscapes are characterized by a significant dual absence: human figures and sunlight; a fact that quiets the scenes and lends a timeless aspect to them. Nasle Shamloo's seemingly representational scenes are in fact imagined nature conjured out of rich visual memory - thanks to his keen and close observation of his environment - and many layers of creation and destruction: beautiful, elegant landscapes with an undertone of absence and yearning.