Over the past decade, the focus of my work has been directed towards expressing ideas of singularity through the use of various contents. Original inspirations for these ideas were found in studies of Rumi 's poetry, Quantum physics and Monistic belief systems. This process started out as a series of sewings in early 2000s by examining relationships among different contents.
During an initial trip back to my native country of Iran, after years of absence, I started to connect and gradually sew images left behind (school books, childhood drawings, etc.) to recent materials I had brought back during the trip (airline brochures, travel magazines, etc.) Assembled on a field of black, different contents were sewn together in a raw attempt to connect past with the present, trespassing time and cultural boundaries. With each consecutive trip, the series grew in volume, content and gradually process. Upon returning to U.S., I continued this work by sewing narratives of disembodied identities, leading the way to a more formalized process. Once again, examining relationships and exploring various methods of assembly, I embarked on a different journey. The Odyssey (2003) was a window into abstraction, a journey of random selection, produced from accumulated content during a trip to California. A raw exercise, examining connections on the surface of what could be found during the trip (road maps, tree barks, hotel stationery, etc.,) connected together by a stapler. The assembly process was inspired by hotel chains, fast food icons and shopping malls, reflecting the stolen identity of a landscape dictated by Herculean corporations. These explorations were continued and gradually formalized by reduction of content into singular subjects which were photographed in segments and later sewn together; an elemental deconstruction favoring process over representation. Subjects in the latter series ranged from individual portraits to replicas of Greek statures from Capitoline Museum in Rome. Alternatively, I sought to apply ideas of subject-object unity onto the painting process; a vehicle mostly used for my Figurative Expressionist works in the past years. During the first applications, intersecting lines were used to connect different geographies of the canvas, depicting a singular scene. The War series (2003) focuses on a battlefield, the war torn landscape of Iraq. Man, machine and nature merge to depict a singular moment in time in this transient landscape. The seeming separation of the soldier from his captive, foreground from the background and man from his weapon is at once rejected by a see-through world with underlying geographies. Reducing the volume of lines, gradually led to reduction of content in the following series of works on canvas and paper: Soldier Head Studies (2003-4). Exposing the background through the lines, proposed a new merge between the visual fields, weaving each subject to their background. This application of lines onto an empty field was further refined to create labyrinthine portraits of different subjects through the past decade.
The inspiration behind most works in my latest series of paintings is found in the iconic images which surrounded me as a child, while growing up in Tehran in 1970s. This landscape was a complete melange of eastern and western influences and informed my sensibilities as a youth. While there was a constant presence of the western world (in particular entertainment imagery) streaming through various media: television, comic books, toys, etc. there was also a continuous flow and exposure to various Persian arts such as calligraphy, miniature painting, tile works, poetry, etc. both at home and in academic life. To create this new series, I have extracted elements from sources mentioned above and overlapped them in my linear figurative painting style to create hybrid images. In paintings ’Of Shirin and Superheroes' #1 and #2 outlines of female figures from Persian miniature paintings are enlarged and directly superimposed onto the silhouette of a superhero, weaving a new space. A space in-between east and west where through the power of technology and globalization the narratives of our lives often merge and overlap to create a new reality.
An earlier work from 2016, ‘Oh, Sweet Bitter world’ is a portrait of Kim Jong Un and Bugs Bunny atop the North Korean leader’s submarine. It s a light meditation on Nietzsche's book Beyond Good and Evil and also a portrait of the role of media in depicting our sense of national morality as we know it. At first glance, these characters seem to belong not only to separate dimensions but also different universes. They come together on the same plane to play an intricate dance of hide and seek and weave an open narrative about their speculative roles. Jong Un appears in the foreground, surveying what lies ahead in his submarine just as it has risen while Bugs (symbolizing the western power) stands leisurely and reassured in the background enjoying his carrot. Jong's captain (also in the background) is depicted as a phantom outline, rendered almost invisible behind his authoritarian ruler. Works such as ‘In the light of your shadow’ and ‘The unwritten history of stains’ re-examine the role and influence of western entertainment in producing commercial icons such as comic book Superheroes. Subversive and subliminal, these characters act as products who infiltrate global culture and at times help shape dark histories by creating an atmosphere of disdain for one’s own personal and national history in exchange for all that is foreign and seductive in the animated west. The removal of Iran’s Prime Minister Dr. Mossadegh from power in 1953 by the CIA (under an operation titled: AJAX) is used as a direct subject for these works to depict such influences.
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