ASIA NOW: Paris Asian Art Fair
SARADIPOUR Art Gallery is pleased to present a group show by three contemporary Iranian artists: Ali Zakeri, Abbas Nasle Shamloo, and Moslem Khezri. While each artist’s work represents a different variety of approaches towards the objective world, they are arguably some of the best components of Iranian figurative art in their ability to transcend the mere mimesis of familiar spaces and objects. Each in their own way, they are dealing with themes rooted in their life experiences and the environments they are intimately familiar with.
Ali Zakeri (1959) – who had his own brush with violence as a young soldier on the battlefield – has painted symbolic pictures of boxers fighting in a bare, vast, and dark arena. Rendered in bright, visceral colors, and bold, expressive brushwork, each scene delivers a raw sense of violence and pain. Moslem Khezri (1984), who has also been an art teacher, offers intimate, nostalgic images of young boys confined to classrooms under the poetic but pale autumnal sunlight. Abbas Nasle Shamloo’s (1981) deceptively realistic landscapes, on the other hand, are in fact many-layered imagined vistas inspired by the green-grey and moist nature of northern Iran that has become his new home in the past few years. Coming from a region deeply affected by drought, Abbas has been both interested in and concerned about the environment and humanity’s increasingly destructive and pathological alienation from mother nature.
“Wide Shut” is a series of acrylic paintings made between 2016 and 2019 by Iranian artist Dariush Hosseini. Throughout the series, we notice subtle yet perceptible references to nature, sometimes even feel natural forces emanating from the surface of the paintings. However, even though each painting might remind viewers of a specific scene or season in nature, like a dark crushing wave, mountains, or a flower field in spring, the artist has never been particularly interested in representing nature, per se. It was a particular visual quality, “wide-shut” as Hosseini calls it, that he has been pursuing for many years.
The idea behind these paintings consists of diminishing the perspective, bringing forms and motifs to a condition where they are neither figurative nor just abstract, and they can expand beyond the edges of the canvas, giving them an almost decorative quality. This idea comes from Hosseini’ love for Persian miniature and other similar Asian traditions where motifs and flatness play an important role in the image.
“In my more abstract paintings, I have always wanted to find substitutes for my forms in nature and the objective world, and I felt that nature is a subject whose elements can recur throughout the space. The viewer could imagine that as the frame grows bigger, these motifs could replicate and fill the space ad infinitum”, says the artist; like closeups of flowers in a green field, or flower motifs printed on fabric.
Dariush Hosseini (b. 1970, Iran) holds an BA in painting and an MA in illustration from the University of Tehran where he was a lecturer and a member of the Faculty of Fine Arts until 2011. Hosseini has held 11 solo drawing and painting exhibitions in Iran and more than 50 group and annual exhibitions in Iran, Turkey, France, and the United Arab Emirates. Hosseini has been a jury member in more than 15 visual arts festivals, held many drawing and painting workshops, lectures, and artist talks in Iran. He has also written several articles and reviews for Iranian visual arts magazines.
His body of paintings and drawings consists of oscillations between figuration and abstraction not only throughout his career but at times even in the process of painting on a single canvas, while rarely adhering to a pure end of this spectrum.
The parts that have been carved, burned, cut and discarded are what that are invisible to us but they are hidden inside us. These parts are similar to the wounds that were healed during the time, and I just put them in front of the mirror because the time is not reflected in the mirror. The mirror is the “anywhere else”, out of the concept of time. The other place that “you are” there, but at the same time “you are not”. These wounds are being forgotten only by remembering.
What appears in my artworks is the volume which is made out of ruins. Each artwork is a sign of a human that gets empowered by the scars of wounds and, only the ash of them reminds us that one day they existed without having anything left. By passing every second something dies inside us without having anything left. By passing every second, something dies inside us, and the wounds and their repetition are evident in the ashes experience in the layers and mirrors. The ashes experience is not only an experience but also an experience of forgetting the oblivion itself, it is an experience of forgetting what has nothing left. The time layers are loyal like the mirror in a way that only shows you the reality. The picture that you see in my artworks are wound residues, the wounds which are not even removed through the passage of time and could be like a restart all the time. The wounds are as deep as can be, can be healed, but they have their scars. The impact of the wounds is not their healing, but that is the scar on our awareness. I invite you to the installation of this selection to read them freely and set them. Revise the wounds, open them and create your own book with new awareness.
The Armory Show 2021
SARADIPOUR Art (SARAI) Gallery is delighted to announce its participation at The Armory Show 2021 with a solo presentation by Moslem Khezri at Booth P7, Hall 3B. Moslem’s ongoing series, “We Keep Reviewing”, invites us to revisit the familiar, nostalgic and contradictory school environment. Moslem – who also happens to be the invisible teacher of his classrooms – captures a timeless aspect of life in an all-boys school in Iran with all its similarities and peculiarities. His work consists of subtly delivered paintings and drawings of sometimes empty but often populated scenes, each sensitively staged with nearly theatrical lighting.
Each work is the result of a chain of crucial decision-making from taking photographs to the painterly restructuring of images – not just in terms of mimesis but more crucially, the inner truth beyond their mundane appearances – on canvas and paper, echoing the artist's mastery over his means of expression, his subjects, and compositions. Khezri enjoys full authority over all the relationships in forms and space, yet neither he nor his camera seems to attract any attention; a god out of sight. Thus, we may join him as invisible guests of these halls, classrooms, and courtyards, wandering around, secretly watching these students whose varied moving and static figures together with the contrasting geometric architecture and furniture around them all come to life in a light-and-shadow play.
As the series develops, lightness, maturity of tones, and gentle passages become an increasingly dominant painterly approach, resulting in a hushed, delicate harmony. Throughout these tableaux, a bittersweet and nostalgic story – from adolescent camaraderie and playfulness to unspoken worries, uniforms, and long midday hours – is narrated, line by line and form by form, by the long, pale fingertips of winter sunlight.
On deeper strata, We Keep Reviewing explores notions of power structures and social discipline and how they can mentally and physically take over our existence from an early age. These mostly enclosed spaces, rectilinear interiors, the prevalence of blue-grey uniforms and, perhaps most poignantly, scenes where all the figures appear in slightly different versions of the same submissive, reduced postures are all visual cues reminding us of the unseen authority at work, even in the more playful compositions where the schoolboys tend to break the space by expressing their individuality in varied gestures.
Selected works from “We Keep Reviewing” were particularly well-received both during the online edition of Art Dubai back in 2020 and at Art Dubai 2021’s Bawwaba section. “Khezri’s protagonists revisit social visions and review the trajectory of history. In each work, an illumination picks out one or another figure”, says cultural theorist, art critic, independent curator and curator of Bawwaba Nancy Adajania describing Moslem’s works, comparing them to “Rembrandt’s group portraiture” and highlighting the essential quality of “Noor, the light of divine grace” within each scene. Moslem Khezri’s works have since been featured in magazines such as The Bombay Review and ZH Magazine.
VOLTA Basel 2021
SARADIPOUR Art (SARAI) Gallery is pleased to present “No Man’s Land,” a duo presentation by Iranian artists Mahdieh Abolhasan and Abbas Nasle Shamloo where two artists of the same generation offer physically and semantically layered, pathological examinations of our land and humanity’s relationship with the environment from similarity to alienation. In processes involving many layers of constructive and destructive marks, using a muted palette of black, white, and mostly earth tones, both artists offer vistas free from human or animal presence, therefore personifying the landscape itself. Together, Mahdieh’s “wounded” beings – interactive drawing-sculptures of multiple strata - and Abbas’s painted and drawn twilight, grey landscapes of ethereal yet forbidding beauty, create a hushed atmosphere for meditation and introspection; a mental and physically charged space for the viewers to contemplate on their environment and a chance to connect the nature within and without.