Reza Hedayat is the painter of myths. He is fascinated with the imaginative world of Iranian literature, folklore and legends which engage his unconscious mind. His art is also influenced by Persian carpets’ motifs and symbolism where he paints trees, flowers, animals and people in harmonious coexistence in color and form. Although Hedayat’s visual language is simplified, yet it narrates complex stories from the past and present. He states: “ Literature is a medium of imagination…it is about creativity and visualization…our literature is very inspirational …Shah Nameh and books by Saadi and Nezami are all great sources for the artists.”
Maryam Salour’s art is tightly related to nature and specifically to earth and clay.
She has been creating ceramic vases and meditating on the color of the glazes and slight changes in their forms consistently through the years. On a vase titled “Chahar Bagh, the Dream of Lost Paradise” a vast abstract landscape consisting of the emerald greens of the fields, turquoise of the sky and a field of red flowers unfold on the glazed surface. Her other vases titled “Poppies” are series of earthenwares covered with intense red glazes which she created after visiting Valley of Lar. She recalls: “I found myself exposed not just to a normal valley, but to a field of thousands of stunning fiery red poppies. The mesmerizing scenery that was laid out so beautifully before me, very gradually and I must say unconsciously, lifted me up and flew me into it….I can’t tell how long it took me to become myself again, but when I came back from this astonishing journey, I realized that I wasn’t standing there looking at them from above anymore, but my soul had become one of them and was amongst them; I had become a poppy.”
Since 1960s Ghobad Shiva has designed a wide array of dynamic and colorful posters for concerts, plays, art festivals, radio and television, films, exhibitions, lectures, environment, tourism and many more cultural and artistic events. He states: “I create artistic graphic design. The product of this kind of design has cultural value and only in poster design you can express your opinions like this.” Shiva’s playful posters are expensive and complex yet easy to read, follow and remember.
He explains:”Poster belongs to streets but if it is good it will reside in homes…When a poster is beautiful people want to own it and this effects their taste… If a poster is designed based on popular culture, it becomes visual poetry and goes beyond transmitting information since it beautifies the city.”
Images by: Ghobad Shiva © Written by Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2019. This text cannot be quoted, translated or published in part or as a whole without Roshanak Keyghobadi’s permission.
Barsua Bashi’s elegant book cover designs are direct and to the point. With few images and typographical elements Bashi encourages the interested readers and makes them curious to pick up a book, flip through the pages and discover the relationship between the cover design and the content of the book. She believes that: “a book cover should be inviting and attractive enough to stand out among other books on display and also easy to read and yet mysterious.” Bashi has designed many book covers for publishing houses in Iran and abroad and states that: “I am not stock to a strict style and design for all books because I believe the author and the contents of the book are more important to be highlighted than the designer. A book cover design is not a platform for acrobatic twists for designers, it should stay loyal to the content and must be humble. The designer plays a supporting role and the star is the writer. In some cover designs the designer is seen first and then the book and they become so fascinated with their style and techniques that the book covers become not legible and the subject of the book gets lost.”
Ourya Mahmoudi is a doll maker and creates one-of-a-kind and highly sophisticated art dolls. She explains: “when we were children and the world was too big for us, we were given dolls so we won’t be scared and we pretended that we were those dolls. We wanted to scale down the world for our dolls—small shoes, small outfits, small houses…but when we grew up the world became the right size for us and we set aside our dolls…yet there were a few who did not change. The world was still too big for them. They went back to their dolls and became doll makers.” Mahmoudi’s dolls are fascinating explorations of materials, forms, textures and colors that evoke multitude of emotions in the viewers. The beads, yarns, bottoms, stitches and fabrics are not decorative elements but essential components of each doll’s character. Mahmoudi has playfully made unique and mysterious dolls that are pregnant with secrets and seduce us to imagine our own stories for them.
Kambiz Derambakhsh has been creating social and political cartoons for the past sixty years. Stream of ideas and images constantly feed his mind, pour to his hands and on to the paper in form of the most sophisticated yet simple marks. Derambakhsh explains, “My ideal, today, is to speak with the least number of lines and simplest of forms, like the Japanese Haiku. This is a new age and people do not have time to read long forms, so I work hard to say what I want with visual brevity.” His magic of visual haiku is embedded not only in the economy of the lines but his use of “white” space. As he states, “ the white spaces on my work are my material and I use it as another color—it is beautiful and simple. Within this space I can draw a line and create a sky, another line and create another line below and make the ground.” His cartoon character (Adamak:Little person) is drawn with few lines. “In the beginning, the character was more detailed…but I reached the point where I realized buttons or checkered patterns were irrelevant. Another interesting aspect of the character is that he doesn’t have eyes, eyebrows, or a mouth…We understand his emotions through his gestures….when he bows his head, we know he is sad; if he jumps in the air, it means he is happy; if he has his hands under his chin, we know he is thinking.” Through the years Derambaksh’s clever Adamak hasnot only been engaging us with an array of emotions from sorrow and fear to joy and laughter but also pushed us to think deeper and look closer.
Hossein Maher’s “Plants” is a collection of paintings that are inspired by the Persian botanical and herbal illustrations of various time periods. Initially, he started to research the artistic and historical visual sources in books, murals, textiles, jewelry, metalworks and carvings and also observed plants around him. As a result his paintings have the same sensibilities, colors, textures and composition of the original images. Maher also became fascinated with the mythological references as well as magical and mysterious properties of plants and their healing powers. Maher explains: “The plants series was a great experience for me. When I was painting them I had full concentration and enjoyed the process. I was immersed in painting and wanted to explore more openly and publicly so I can share my research with others. I am like this…I get very excited…this is how the plant series started…very playful…I still feel very good whenever I look at these paintings. I feel like I am observing the world in a more inclusive way and like to offer this beauty to others.”