Two Bowls

Roshanak Keyghobadi | March 2015 | New York

Currently a 10th century ceramic serving bowl from Iran resides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This bowl was probably made in Samarqand but excavated in the city of Nishapur (in northwestern Iran).[i] The bowl has calligraphic decorations in Eastern Kufic script[ii] that wishes its owners/users “blessing, prosperity, goodwill, peace, and happiness.”[iii]

Two years ago in Fargo, North Dakota (in north central USA) a ceramic serving bowl was made by the potter Michael Strand[iv] as a component of a project titled Bowls Around Town. This bowl was placed in a carefully crafted wooden box along with a video camera and a recipe journal and circulated among various individuals. In course of several years people would borrow the bowl and it would hold meals that each person has made, the camera will be used to record the process and the recipes, related memories and stories will be written in the journal. Bowls Around Town was part of Engage+Use project that “featured contemporary project-based work that investigated the processes of making, using, and living with bowls.”[v]

Although from different cultures and eras these two bowls have a number of qualities in common. Both bowls are made out of clay and their forms serve their purpose of holding food. They have also been tools for communication with their users – the writings on the bowl from Iran transmit positive messages of wellbeing and happiness and the bowl from Fargo becomes a tool for evoking and transmitting stories. Connection with both bowls from the beginning of their making to every time they have been or are used involves a collective effort. According to art historian Sheila Blair[vi] a team of skilled artisans was involved in making and decorating bowls such as the bowl from Iran. They were the owners/managers, throwing potters, people who did the clay preparation, throwing and turning, painted decoration, glazing, and firing as well as calligraphers, painters for the interior and assistants for the exterior painting. Although the bowl from Fargo has one maker yet it involves a team of facilitators and users such as various communities and groups, families, fire stations, public library patrons or anyone who has hosted the bowl. [vii]

But is there any relationship between the form and function of these two bowls and do they have any aesthetic value? The debate about form and function in art frequently points to the architect, Louis Sullivan[viii] and his famous statement about form following function. Sullivan believed that the purpose of a building establishes the form that it should take. As the continuation of Sullivan’s philosophy Frank Lloyd Wright[ix] proposed the idea of “organic architecture” which believed in the close relationship between human and nature by designing integrated and unified sites and spaces. Walter Gropius[x], who founded the German art school Bauhaus in 1919 and was one of the pioneers of modern architecture, believed in “total architecture” and “total work of art” in which various forms of art are combined to create a singular experience. Iranian philosopher Seyyed Hossien Nasr[xi] believes that Islamic architecture and art have transcendent forms and qualities. Nasr (1973) has stated that: “…men live in forms and, in order to be drawn toward the transcendent, they must be by forms that echo transcendent archetypes.”[xii]. Also Nader Ardalan[xiii] and Laleh Bakhtiar[xiv] (1973) have explained that the function of traditional Iranian art is achieving aesthetic and spiritual Unity. They believe that: “the traditional artist creates the external art form in light of the spirit; in this way the art form is able to lead man to the higher states of being and ultimately to Unity.” [xv]

The shape, color, organic lines, decorations and calligraphy on one bowl and the proportions, form, texture and glaze on the other not only make each bowl sophisticated and beautiful but also offer unique visual experiences to its makers, users and viewers. As philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey[xvi], points out “a work of art is created every time it is esthetically experienced.” [xvii] Dewey believed in the transformative nature of the aesthetic experience and stated that: “art throws off the covers that hide the expressiveness of experienced things; it quickens us from the slackness of routine and enables us to forget ourselves by finding ourselves in the delight of experiencing the world about us in its varied qualities and forms. It interprets every shade of expressiveness found in objects and orders them in a new experience of life. Because the objects of art are expressive, they communicate.”[xviii]

The makers of the bowl from Iran have created an expressive vessel that communicates through words, which transform its users eating experience. When the food is gradually consumed and the words are revealed an ordinary bowl becomes an object of beauty and contemplation therefore according to the Islamic thought revealing meaning (mana) through form (surat).

The maker of the Fargo bowl Michael Strand explains that his art practice and mission is to create objects (cups and bowls) which are meant to function as tools for visual, verbal and human interactions. He states: “I make objects that extend beyond the walls of the museum or the confines of a gallery. Without this restriction I work to build bridges between people through shared experiences with functional objects and ideas. Relationship is my content. Working in collaboration is my process. Human connection through art, craft and design is my mission.”

Ultimately although the bowl from Iran and the bowl from Fargo function as practical vessels they are also “objects of art” and vice versa. And most importantly these bowls function as “objects of inquiry” that are expressive and open to new and contemporary aesthetic experiences. The two bowls “build bridges” between makers and users, past and present, meaning and form, form and function.

 

Images:

Bowl. Late 10th–11th century, Iran, Nishapur; present-day Uzbekistan, probably Samarqand. Earthenware. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, U.S.A. 35.6 cm x 10.8 cm.

Bowl. 2013, U.S.A., Fargo, North Dakota. Ceramic. Made by Michael Strand as part of Bowls Around Town project. 36 cm x 14 cm.

 

Notes:

[i] Nishapur and Samarqand were under Samanid rule in the 10th century Iran.

[ii] “Eastern Kufic” script is now referred to as “new style script.” It is a script most often associated with the Eastern Islamic World.” Maryam Ekhtiar. (2015)

[iii] “Bowl with Arabic inscription [Found at Iran, Nishapur, Tepe Madrasa]” (40.170.15) In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History . New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/40.170.15. (July 2011)

[iv] Michael Strand (b. 1970 ).

[v] Engage+Use project and Bowls Around Town were part of a larger exhibition titled Object Focus: The Bowl that was curated by Namita Gupta Wiggers at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland. Object Focus: The Bowl: March 07, 2013 – September 21, 2013. Engage+Use: May 16 – September 21, 2013. http://mocc.pnca.edu/exhibitions/5412/

[vi] Sheila Blair (b. 1948).

[vii] Blair, S. (2013) Text and Image in Medieval Persian Art. Chapter 2: The Art of Writing:A Bowl from Samarqand. P. 13.

[viii] Louis Sullivan (1864-1924).

[ix] Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959).

[x] Walter Gropius (1883-1969).

[xi] Seyyed Hossien Nasr (b. 1933).

[xii] Nasr, S.H. (1973) Islamic Art and Spirituality. p. xi

[xiii] Nader Ardalan (b. 1940).

[xiv] Laleh Bakhtiar (b.1938).

[xv] Ardalan, N. and Bakhtiar, L . (1973) Sense of Unity; The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture. p. 7

[xvi] John Dewey (1859- 1952).

[xvii] Dewey, J. (1934) Art as Experience. p.113.

[xviii] Dewey, J. (1934) Art as Experience. p.108.

© Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2016. This essay cannot be reproduced, quoted, translated or published in part or as a whole in any format without Roshanak Keyghobadi’s permission.

* This article was originally published in NESHAN magazine #34 | Autumn 2015

دو کاسه

روشنک کیقبادی | فروردین ۱۳۹۴ | نیویورک

در حال حا ضر یک کاسه متعلق به قرن دهم میلادی از ایران درموزه ی هنر متروپولیتن نیویورک مسکن دارد که به احتمال زیاد در سمرقند ساخته شده ولی در نیشابور (در شمال غرب ایران)۱ پیدا شده است. این کاسه که با خوشنویسی تزیین شده نوشته ای به خط کوفی شرقی۲ برویش دارد که آرزوی “برکت, کامیابی, حسن نیت, صلح و خوشبختی”۳ برای صاحب و استفاده کننده خود می کند

دو سال پیش در شهر فارگو درداکوتای شمالی (در شما ل مرکزی ایالات متحده امریکا) یک کاسه به دست سفالگری به نام مایکل سترند۴ ساخته شد که جزو پروژه ای به نام “کاسه های پیرامون شهر” بود. این کاسه در یک جعبه ی چوبی که مخصوص ان درست شده بود همراه یک دوربین ویدئو و یک دفتر برای نوشتن دستورغذا قرار داده شد و بین افراد دست به دست به گردش درآمد. درطول چند سال آینده مردم این کاسه را قرض خواهند گرفت و کاسه هرغذایی که هر فردی درست کند درخود جای خواهد داد ,از دوربین ویدئو برای ثبت روند کار و دستور غذاها استفاده می شود و خاطرات و داستانهای مرتبط به هرغذا دردفتر یادداشت خواهند شد. “کاسه های پیرامون شهر“ قسمتی از طرح “سهیم شدن+استفاده” بود که ” کارهای معاصر و پروژه ها یی را به نمایش می گذا شت که روند ساختن ,استفاده و زندگی با کاسه ها را بررسی می کرد .”۵

با اینکه این دو کاسه مربوط به دو فرهنگ و عصر متفاوت هستند ولی از چند جنبه به یکدیگر شباهت دارند. هر دو کاسه سفالی هستند و کارشان را که نگه داشتن غذاست انجام می دهند. این دو ابزاری برای ارتباط با استفاده کننده های خودشان هم هستند — نوشته های روی کاسه ای که از ایران است پیامهای مثبتی چون سلامتی و خوشبختی را انتقال می دهد و کاسه ای که از فارگو است وسیله ای برای فراخواندن وانتقال داستان هاست .

ارتباط باهردو کاسه از ابتدا ساخته شدنشان وهربارکه استفاده شده اند یا می شوند یک کوشش گروهی است. همانطور که متخصص تاریخ هنر شیلا بلر۶ می گوید یک گروه هنرمند ماهرکاسه هایی مثل این کاسه که از ایران است را می ساختند. این جمع شامل صاحبان/مدیران ,افرادی که خاک رس و گل را آماده میکردند ,سفالگران ,لعآب کاران و همینطور خوشنویسان و نقاشان تزیینات داخل و خارج کاسه بودند. با اینکه کاسه ای که از فارگو است را یک نفر ساخته بااینحال یک گروه به او کمک کرده اند که شامل انجمن ها ,دسته ها ,خانواده ها ,مراکز آتش نشانی ,کتابخانه های عمومی وهر کسی که میزبان کاسه بوده می باشند. ۷

ولی آیا هیچ ارتباطی بین شکل و کاربرد این دو کاسه وجود دارد و آیا این دو دارای هیچ ارزش زیبایی شناختی هستند؟ مباحثه درمورد شکل و کاربرد در هنر غالبا اشاره به لویز سولیوان۸ آرشیتکت دارد و گفته معروف او درمورد پیروی شکل از کاربرد. سولیوان عقیده داشت که هدف یک ساختمان شکل ان را تعیین می کند . فرنک لوید رایت۹ درادامه طرز فکر سولیوان اندیشه ی “معماری ارگانیک” را مطرح کرد که عقیده به ایجاد رابطه نزدیک بین انسان و طبیعت از طریق طراحی فضاها و مکان های یکپارچه داشت. والتر گروپیوس۱۰ که مدرسه هنر آلمانی باوهاوس را در ۱۹۱۹ تاسیس کرد و یکی از پیشگامان معماری مدرن بود عقیده به “معماری کلی وتام” و “هنر تام” داشت که در ان اشکال مختلف هنر با یکدیگر ادغام میشوند تا یک تجربه واحد پدید بیاورند.

فیلسوف ایرانی سید حسین نصر۱۱ بر این عقیده است که معماری و هنر اسلامی اشکال و کیفیت های افضل دارند . نصر میگوید :”انسان ها در شکل زندگی می کنند, برای این که به سمت افضل کشیده شو ند باید با اشکالی که الگو ی افضل را منعکس می کنند احاطه شوند”.۱۲ همینطور نادر اردلان۱۳ و لاله بختیار۱۴ توضیح می دهند که کاربرد هنر سنتی ایران رسیدن به وحدت زیبایی شناختی و معنوی است. آنها عقیده دارند که : “هنرمند سنتی شکل هنر بیرونی را در پرتو روح و معنی خلق می کند؛ از این طریق شکل هنری توانایی این را دارد که انسان را به مراتب بالاتر وجود و در نهایت به وحدت برساند .”۱۵

شکل , رنگ ,خط های ارگانیک , تزئینات و خوشنویسی بروی یک کاسه و تناسبات ,شکل ,بافت و لعاب در کاسه دیگر نه تنها هر یک از این دو را زیبا و پیچیده کرده اند بلکه تجربه های زیبا شناختی منحصر به فردی را برای سازنده ,استفاده کننده و بیننده فراهم می کنند . همانطور که جان دیویی۱۶ فیلسوف و اصلاح طلب اموزشی اشاره می کند: ” یک اثر هنری هر بار که از طریق زیبایی شناختی تجربه می شود دوباره خلق می شود.”۱۷ دیویی عقیده به طبیعت دگرگون کننده تجربه زیباشناختی دارد و می گوید: ” هنر پرده ای را که بیان گری چیزهای تجربه شده را پنهان کرده کنار میزند. به ما در مقابل رخوت روزمره گی نیرو می دهد و ما را قادر می سازد که خود را فراموش کنیم و خودمان را در شوق تجربه کردن دنیای پیرامون خود با کیفیت ها و شکل های متفاوتش پیدا کنیم . هنر انواع تجلیات یک شیء را تفسیر میکند و به یک تجربه جدید در زندگی تبدیل میک ند .از ان جائی که اشیاء هنری بیانگر هستند ,ارتباط برقرارمی کنند.” ۱۸

سازنده گان کاسه ای که از ایران است ظرفی گویا خلق کرده اند که با کلمات ارتباط برقرار می کند و تجربه غذا خوردن را برای استفاده کننده اش دگرگون می کند. وقتی که در این کاسه غذا خورده می شود و به تدریج کلمات آشکار می شوند یک کا سه معمولی تبدیل به چیزی زیبا و قابل تعمق می شود یعنی طبق نظریه اسلامی معنا را از طریق صورت آشکار می کند .

سازنده کاسه فآرگو مایکل سترند توضیح می دهد که کار هنری و ماموریت او به وجود آوردن اشیا یی (فنجان و کاسه) است که کاربرد ابزاری برای ارتباط دیداری ,گفتاری و انسانی دارند . او میگوید: “من اشیا یی می سازم که ورای دیوارهای موزه یا محدوده گالری می روند .بدون این محدودیت من سعی می کنم که بین مردم پل هایی از تجربه های مشترک با اشیا کاربردی و اندیشه درست کنم . ارتباط محتوای من است . کار از طریق همکاری روند کار من است. رابطه انسانی از طریق هنر, صنعت و طراحی ماموریت من است .”

در نهایت اگر چه کاسه از ایران و کاسه از فارگو کاربرد عملی دارند آنها اشیایی هنری هستند و برعکس. و مهمتر این که کاربرد این دو کاسه این است که “اشیا پرس و جو” هستند , بیان گرند و آماده تجربه های زیبا شناختی جدید و معاصر. این دو کاسه پلی ساخته اند بین سازنده و استفاده کننده, گذشته و حال, معنی و شکل ,شکل و کاربرد.

:پا نوشت ها

۱. در قرن دهم میلادی نیشابور و سمرقند جزو حکومت سامانی بودند

۲. “خط کوفی شرقی در حال حاضر به نام خط سبک نو شناخته میشود که خطی است متعلق به شرق جهان اسلام.” مریم اختیار-۲۰۱۵

۳.”Bowl with Arabic inscription [Found at Iran, Nishapur, Tepe Madrasa]” (40.170.15) In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History . New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/40.170.15. (July 2011)

۴. Michael Strand (b. 1970)

۵. طرح “سهیم شدن+استفاده” و کاسه های پیرامون شهر اجزا یک نمایشگاه بزرگتر به نام تمرکزروی شی بودند که نمیتا گوپتا ویگر در موزه هنر معاصر پورتلند هماهنگ کرده بود
Object Focus: The Bowl: March 07, 2013 – September 21, 2013. Engage+Use: May 16 – September 21, 2013.
http://mocc.pnca.edu/exhibitions/5412

۶.Sheila Blair (b. 1948)

۷. Blair, S. (2013) Text and Image in Medieval Persian Art. Chapter 2: The Art of Writing:A Bowl from Samarqand. P. 13

۸. Louis Sullivan (1864-1924)

۹. Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)

۱۰. Walter Gropius (1883-1969)

۱۱. Seyyed Hossien Nasr (b. 1933)

۱۲. Nasr, S.H. (1973) Islamic Art and Spirituality. p. xi

۱۳. Nader Ardalan (b. 1940)

۱۴. Laleh Bakhtiar (b.1938)

۱۵. Ardalan, N. and Bakhtiar, L . (1973) Sense of Unity; The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture. p. 7

۱۶. John Dewey (1859- 1952)

۱۷. Dewey, J. (1934) Art as Experience. p.113

۱۸. Dewey, J. (1934) Art as Experience. p.108

تصویر ها :

کاسه. اواخر قرن ١٠ تا ۱۱,ایران , نیشابور؛ ازبکستان امروزی ,احتمالا سمرقند. سفال. موزه هنر متروپولیتن
, نیو یورک, ایالات متحده امریکا. ۳۵.۶ سانتیمتر در ۱۰.۸ سانتیمتر.

کاسه. ٢٠١٣.ایالات متحده امریکا. فارگو, داکوتای شمالی. سرامیک. ساخته مایکل سترند جزو پروژه کاسه های پیرامون شهر. ۳۶ سانتیمتر در ۱۴ سانتیمتر.

. این متن در مجله نشان ( شماره ۳۴) ویژه‌ی کارکرد و طراحی به چاپ رسیده است
.چاپ وتکثیر این متن به هرشکلی بدون اجازه روشنک کیقبادی ممنوع است  © 

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What is Typography?

Roshanak Keyghobadi | January 2015

Typography has been identified in a number of ways and its definition has gone through changes throughout the history of design based on aesthetic, cultural, social and technological ideas and transformations.

Friedrich Friedl, Nicolaus Ott and Bernard Stein (1998) in their book Typography: An Encyclopedia of Type Design and Techniques Throughout History state: “the 20th century brought change to all areas of art and culture. The legacy of past centuries was consciously forgotten to make way for the new. Art saw the transformation from representational to abstract painting. Unfamiliar images were greeted with vehement enthusiasm and rejection alike before they were accepted as an expression of a society under radical change. This in turn changed ideas of harmony, form and proportion. Typography, which had changed little since Gutenberg and then only in conformity with a rigid pattern of rules, was also embraced by these new concepts. In the past it had been a steady medium which served reading and writing; now suddenly began to move.”(p. 8)

Rob Carter, Ben Day and Philip Meggs (2002) in Typographic Design: Form and Communication also highlight the changes in the function and definition of typography since the early twentieth century. They explain: “the typographic message is verbal, visual, and vocal. While typography is read and interpreted verbally, it may also be viewed and interpreted visually, heard and interpreted audibly. It is a dynamic communication medium. In this sense, early twentieth- century typography becomes a revolutionary form of communication, bringing new expressive power to written word.” (p. 74)

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1923) in his essay titled “The New Typography” explains: “epigraphy is a tool of communication. It must be communication in its most intense form. The emphasis must be on absolute clarity since this distinguishes the character of our own writing from that of ancient pictographic forms” . In 1971 designer Herbert Bayer describes typography as “a service art, not a fine art, however pure and elemental the discipline may be.”

Later Philip Meggs (1992) clarifies that, traditionally, the word typography meant the technical process of printing writing through the use of metal types with raised letterforms that could be linked and printed in a process not unlike a rubber stamp. In our electronic age, typography encompasses the transmission and communications of alphabetical and numerical information through a variety of means, including printing, video transmission, computer display, and electric signs.  What Meggs is describing is the evolving nature of typography and its essence and meaning. In a sense typography is no longer about the metal type or typeset matter but it is as James Craig and William Bevington (1999) explain, “the art of designing with type.”

Also, Kees Broos (1982) in the essay “From De Stijl to New Typography” proposes: “let us define the word “typography” here as the deliberate use of letters, in the broadest sense of the word. The user can be printer, typographer, architect, poet or painter. The materials are not restricted to those of the type case or typesetting machine, but encompass every suitable medium from linoleum to electronic news marquees and from a tile tableau to television. It is important that the user be aware of the shape and function of each letter and consequently of the expressive potential in the design and arrangement of letters and text opened up to the reader and the viewer.”

The definition of typography and the space that it creates for layers of meaning and interpretations are continually expanding and shifting. As Rick Poynor (1991) in his essay “Type and Deconstruction in the Digital Era” explains: “contemporary typographic works embody multiple readings, encourage readers’ participation and are becoming complex.” Poynor states: “type design in the digital era is quirky, personal and unreservedly subjective. The authoritarian voices of Modernist typography, which seem to permit only a single authorized reading, are rejected as too corporate, inflexible and limiting, as though – it may be forlorn hope – typographic diversity itself might somehow re-enfranchise its readers…The aim is to promote multiple rather than fixed readings, to provoke the reader into becoming an active participant in the construction of message. Later Modernist typography sought to reduce complexity and to clarify content, but the new typographers relish ambiguity, preferring the provisional utterance, alternative take, and delayed punchline to finely honed phrase.”

Jessica Helfand (1995) in her essay “Electronic Typography” draws the attention to the performative and dramatic nature of contemporary typography and asks: “What happens when written words can speak? When they can move? When they can be imbued with sound and tone and nuance and decibel and harmony and voice? As designers probing the creative parameters of this new technology, our goal may be less to digitize than dramatize.”

Another factor that influences the evolving definition of typography is who is defining it and in what cultural context it is defined. For example the complexity and openness of the definition of typography sometimes creates anxiety and unease among artists and designers.

Currently in the Iranian design scene one of the heated topics of conversation and criticism is typography and its definition. Although typographic activities such as siyah mashq (even if they are not recognized as typography) have long been practiced in Iran, yet typography is confronted as a new phenomenon that is overpowering every aspect of the graphic design. In 2006 Ebrahim Haghighi (2006) in his essay titled “Poster Mania” puts forward several questions about “the emergence of a new form of art called typography.” He states: “it is not clear whether it is painting or sculpture, graphic design or photography, cinema or video art. It may encompass all or may be independent and self sufficient with its own set of principles and techniques. Does every work produced by calligraphy, penmanship or fonts classify as typography? How can we distinguish that it is not a work of graphic design or painting? By which rule or principle has this new labeling been defined? ”

Other Iranian designers have expressed their understanding and definition of typography as well. Morteza Momayez (2004) explained: “typography is not merely the design of the letters. In today’s world there are a number of different definitions for typography. We cannot even say that typography is design with script or letters, because in some instances in the hands of a typographer or type designer or a layout artist, it creates an atmosphere that visualizes the written concepts.”

Mohammad Ehsaei (2010) separates writing and calligraphy from typography and explains: “when we say typography, at once typing letters come to mind. You are typing the letters that have been pre-designed for specific needs and goals. Delicate letters are designs for delicate concepts and rough letters for bolder purposes…Therefore we have typography, calligraphy and writing. Each has a different function, form and aesthetics. Nowadays all of these are presented in form of what is called a font and the common mistake is to call all of them typography. Calligraphy can never become a font. A calligrapher sits down and creates a calligraphic work and if a nastaliq font is designed it is not calligraphy anymore. When a letter or a word is designed for a logo and is not going to be used for other typesetting purposes, it is not called typography. For example when you look at Herb Lubalin’s Mother and Child logo it is not typography it is graphic design…Calligraphy is the mastery and skill that is embedded in calligrapher’s hands and anything that the calligrapher creates on the paper is personal and would be for the first and last time; just like writing.”

In his essay titled “What is typography?” Saed Meshki (2004) states: “the most important, and at the same time, the most challenging function of typography is to create by letters and words an ambiance capable of conveying to the viewer something of the essential character of the subject, and also something of the graphic designer’s feelings about the subject and his or her grasp of it. Letters and characters are a set of signs that by virtue of their familiarity impart to the viewer something more than just an exercise in pure form even if they are not legible in a typographic composition. Because of their characteristic shapes, Persian letters and words are imbued with energy of their own. It is by the correct exploitation of this latent energy of Persian letters and by discovering the aesthetic criterions that apply to them that Persian typography is distinguished from Western typography.”

Reza Abedini (2010) defines typography as: “any activity by a graphic designer to give letters and writing a visual meaning beyond information…There is a major problem with trying to define typography. When you ask what is the definition of typography it is like asking what is the definition of computer, and in addition you want to know what is Iranian typography? There is no such thing. If we want to talk about computers, Iranians have no role in its creation. They may like to translate its name to Persian and call it Pardazeshgar to feel better but this does not change anything about the nature and function of the computer. Well, it is the same story with typography. Basically typographic activities are meaningful in Western visual art specifically in Western graphic design…What I mean is if I want to be seriously working on Persian calligraphy and Persian letters it is not necessarily called typography anymore. Using computer as an example again, I should create a device, which can solve my [an Iranian person] problem, because computer has solved the problem of a Western person.”

Masoud Nejabati (2004) stated: “in my view typography is giving sensitivity to letters. If we agree that every graphic design work is made of two basic elements of type and image, the quality and validity of what is written is based on typography. Which means that type has been changed from its usual form. If letters are endowed with sensitivity then a typographic work is created either in concrete form or abstract form.”

Homa Delvaray (2010) states that: “typography has a wide definition and I can not fit it in one sentence, but what comes to my mind is when we consider specific qualities of letters in a work and emphasize that aspect it becomes typography. It is in reality a graphic design style, which people choose to use and it can be objective or subjective. If they look at typography objectively, they transfer the meaning by objective means and if they chose to use is subjectively and in abstract context, they use letters as codes. It all depends on the designer’s taste…When we concentrate on each letter and position them in a space in order to create a composition, it becomes a typographic work.”

In conclusion, I believe that the most contemporary and relevant description of typography is what design critic and educator Ellen Lupton has put forward which is “the art of designing letterforms and arranging them in space and time.” Lupton (2000) explains: ” Typography is going under water as designers submerge themselves in the textures and transitions that bond letter, word, and surface. As rigid formats become open and pliant, the architectural hardware of typographic systems is melting down.”

Artworks by: Shahrzad Changalvaee, Reza Abedini, Farhad Fozouni, Homa Delvaray, Iman Raad and Mohammad Ehsaei.

© Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2015. This essay cannot be reproduced, quoted, translated or published in part or as a whole in any format without Roshanak Keyghobadi’s permission.

 

 

 

 

 

Without a Face: Six Iranian artists and six portraits

By: Roshanak Keyghobadi | March 19, 2014

صورت من صورت تو نیست , لیک… 
جمله توام , صورت من چون غطا
صورت و معنی تو شوم چون رسی
…محو شود صورت من در لقا 
مولانا

Art historian Shearer West (2004) describes portraitures as “aesthetic objects,” with “pragmatic and symbolic function.” West also explains that: “self-portraiture by its very nature engages in some way with artistic identity, but how that identity is represented and perceived is heavily influenced by the status and gender of the artist at different periods in history.[i]

Historically in Iranian miniature paintings humans have been depicted as ideal figures and portraitures were two-dimensional with minimal hints of chiaroscuro.  In the Safavid era (1501–1736) Reza Abbasi created a new genre in painting by enlarging and depicting single characters, which were more realistic and with individuality; and Sadeqi Beg has apparently “painted thousands of marvelous portraits.”[ii]

According to Priscilla Soucek (2000): “as the popularity of portraiture grew, there appears to have been a parallel evolution in writing about it that explored the connection between an image’s external appearance and its inner significance…by the late sixteenth century the Safavid poet and painter Sadeqi Beg can claim that the outer form (sura) of his portraits had almost been able to portray a person’s (mani) or inner essence. He also claims that some paintings are so lifelike that all they lack is speech.”[iii]

In the Qajar era (1785–1925) when new European painting techniques and photographic imagery were introduced to Iranian artists they started to explore other ways of visual representation. Aydin Aghdashloo (2005) observes that in the Qajar period Iranian painting gradually distanced itself from the realm of spirituality and imagination and sought to depict the moments of mortal and worldly pleasure and focused more on the subject matter. Aghdashloo believes that: “technically Qajar paintings possess a magical and rich quality, intelligent composition, brilliant colors, innovative ornamentation, and skillful portrait painting (shamayel negari).”[iv]

In contemporary Iranian art practices portraiture has been a popular genre and photographs of Bahman Jalali (Image of the Imagination)[v], Maryam Zandi (The portraits)[vi] and Newsha Tavakiloian (Look)[vii] as well as paintings of Aydin Aghdashloo (Occidental)[viii] and Simin Keramati (Self Portraits)[ix]; and silkscreen prints of Khosrow Hassanzadeh (Prostitutes)[x] are few examples.

In general portraits act as signifiers and they can carry cultural and social codes which represent politics of class, gender and power. One of the most important elements of traditional portraiture is depiction of the facial features, which can provide visual clues for deciphering ones identity or can act as internal or external narratives. But what happens if a portrait lacks facial features or the face is not obvious?

In the six portraits by six contemporary Iranian artists (Reza Abedini, Sadegh Tirafkan, Shadi Ghadirian, Samira Alikhanzadeh, Samira Eskandarfar and Amirali Ghasemi) the “face” is hidden, covered or omitted. Although in all of these artworks it seems that the absence of the face makes the portraits unidentifiable yet they become loaded sites of self-identification and reflection for the artists as well as the viewers.

Reza Abedini’s poster depicts the silhouette figure of himself where the face is covered with a cluster of letters.  When asked about the reason for hiding his face in his posters Abedini explained: “It has been mentioned that I always hide my face. It is true, I never thought about it. It was entirely unconscious. I still don’t like to have a clear image of my face in my posters.” [xi] In this image Abedini has positioned his figure in the center of the format following the composition of the Qajar paintings and photographs. Although his portrait lacks clear facial features, ironically it is the essence of his visual identity and individual expression. Abedini’s portrait is a self-referential image since not only his face is covered with Rezar typeface (that he has designed) but also he has used his silhouette repeatedly to the point that it had turned into his personal mark and logo.[xii]

Sadegh Tirafkan’s self-portrait depicts him holding a sword.  His face and part of his naked body are covered with a Lo-ng, which is a red rectangular cloth that men use in Iranian bathhouses for drying and covering themselves. Tirafkan has explained that the body with the covered face and the sword do not represent aggression but honor and patriotism. He has stated: “sword and Lo-ng are among the most important icons of manhood in Iranian culture. Sword is a defensive weapon rather than an aggressive one and it is used to defend ones dignity and country. In addition to cover a man’s body, Lo-ng is also a symbol of masculinity and humanity to a real man. In ancient Islamic civilization Lo-ng was worn by warriors and it was made of gold and silk threads…I tried to convey the humanistic message embedded in these ancient symbols of manhood in my culture…”[xiii]  By not revealing his face Tirafkan has transformed his self-portrait into an image that can belong to any Iranian man. His body language and gesture of holding a sword suggests heroic pride and empowerment. This can be a figure of a ghahreman or pahlevan (hero or champion) reclaiming his honor without showing his face, as it is customary for a javan mard (righteous man) to perform a good deed or act of kindness without revealing his identity. Tirafkan’s main focus is on masculinity and he is occupied with what he considers symbols of manhood.

In contrast Shadi Ghadiraian’s portrait focuses on womanhood. In her photograph a woman in a chador (veil) with floral patterns has a face that is replaced or covered with a frying pan. Other photographs of this collection portray women wearing various patterned veils with their faces replaced with other cooking or cleaning tools such as a teapot, a colander, a grater, a broom, an iron or a plastic glove.[xiv] Ghadirian explains: “I married my friend and colleague who is a photographer and writer in 2001. As soon as I mentioned marriage my mother started buying things like bowls, plates, iron, etc… and prepared my dowry and sent me to my new home.  Family and friends came to visit and they brought gifts such as broom, ladle, glasses, etc… I thought to myself…what are these things that women have to start their new life with? I stared my married life and used all of those things. I also had new responsibilities. What should we eat? What should we wear? My dual life started from there. For instance I would stir the food and read a magazine at the same time and many more examples such as this. Although I was in better position compared to other women. Because I did photography, traveled and liked my work but I was still responsible for all the housework. I created the series of Like Every Day at that period.[xv]  The objectified woman of Ghadirian’s portrait is a “product” of her culture and society.  Her body is transformed to a decorative figure covered with a wall paper-like chador and her face is transformed to a generic cooking tool. Does any one exist behind the chador and the frying pan? Ghadirian’s woman is confined in multiple ways and addresses the issue of a woman’s social and cultural identity as well as her personal identity.

Similarly the woman in Samira Eskandarfar’s painting is concealed more than once. First she is covered by a mask, which is made to hide her entire face except her eyes and then by her hands hiding her face. Eskandarfar has created many portrait paintings[xvi] yet this portrait is among the very few of her self-portraits with an entirely covered face. She explains: “this was an accidental photo and actually I was pressing my forehead because I had a headache … but I felt that it was an image that I could expand. It is a part of my Mickey Mask series which I created two years ago and is really a self- portrait. In this work the face is not under a mask but hands are covering the face and hiding the feelings. It is related to an inner dialogue and about the human condition.[xvii] Eskandarfar’s portrait delves into more personal yet humanistic and philosophical issues and contemplations. In her portrait Eskandarfar’s face is covered by her own hand and at will. By doing this she creates a barrier between herself and the viewer.  Her fingers with short nails that are painted in black nail polish[xviii] press her forehead, which is wrinkled under pressure. The gesture conveys tension and stress and creates anxiety. This can be the portrait of any woman in contemporary time that is dealing with her own feelings as well as trying to make sense of the world around her.

Samira Alikhanzadeh’s self-portrait is not a portrait of herself. It is painting based on an old photograph of a woman. She is wearing a green blouse pinned with a golden brooch, has long flowing red hair and wearing red nail polish.[xix] Her image and presence evokes feelings of liberation and confidence even though her face is covered under mirrors. Alikhanzadeh explains: “the images I use in my work date to the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s; a period following the banishment of the veil in Iran. By applying mirrors to the surface, I create a marked though incomplete, presence of the viewers within the framework of my composition. I thus make a direct connection between the subjects in the past and the viewers in the present. They in turn become a part of the composition and possible descendants of the subjects, looking into a past, or perhaps like I, satisfying their voyeuristic urge to enter the lives and memories of generations gone by.[xx]  By omitting the original face of the photographed woman, renaming it as a self-portrait and reflecting the viewer’s face in place of the actual face Alikhanzadeh combines and creates multiple spaces of identification and realization[xxi] which travel through time.

Amirali Ghasemi’s photograph focuses on the semiotics of an actual space and social setting. His image depicts a woman in a coffee shop in Tehran. Her face and hands are blanked out except for her lips that are revealing a Cheshire smile. She is wearing  a ring on her left hand finger, holding a cigarette and is wearing a watch on her right hand. Her hair is casually covered with a scarf and her head is resting on her hand. It seems that she is relaxed and looking straight into the camera.  Ghasemi explains: “coffee Shop Ladies is a series of documentary photos I took in Tehran…The faces of the young ladies portrayed in these photos are hidden by a blank space (stickers). By reducing the level of information that each photo can offer to visitors, I wanted to prevent the media from misusing and/or manipulating the images on a mass scale. Nevertheless, the connection with the real characters isn’t lost completely. When Coffee Shop Ladies is presented as part of an interactive program, viewers are free to find out more about the characters by clicking on the blank spaces, then listening to what the ladies have to say. Ghasemi’s photograph makes the viewer aware of the location in which the woman is situated. In a sense the photograph becomes a portrait of the site (coffee shop) rather than a person.[xxii] Ghasemi states:“due to the absence of public places, cafes are a symbol of social freedom in Iran. They are the only places where young people, intellectuals and journalists can interact…” [xxiii] Also in Ghasemi’s photograph the simultaneous presence and absence of the woman in her environment may point to the status of women in contemporary Iran.

Some of the common themes in the six portraits are identity, individuality, representation, negotiation, culture, class, gender and narrative of self and the other. It should be mentioned that each of the six images that were discussed is part of series (posters, paintings, and photographs) and can be studied in relationship to other similar images within its collective to investigate other interpretations and ways of reading. Also there are more artists that have created fascinating portraits with concealed features and faces throughout Iranian art history but at this instant and as a starting point I believe these six portraits make room for imagination and provide ample space for the viewers to interact with them and explore and create their own narratives.

Images from top left to right:

­­

  • Reza Abedini, Persianalite, 2008, exhibition poster, 100×70 cm.
  • Samira Alikhanzadeh, #24 from the Self Portrait series, 2011, acrylic and mirror fragments on printed board, edition of 3 + 1 AP, 140×100 cm.
  • Shadi Ghadirian, #6 from Like Every Day series, 2000, photograph, 50×50 cm.
  • Amirali Ghasemi, from Coffee Shop Ladies series, 2004, photograph, 30×40 cm.
  • Sadegh Tirafkan, from Iranian Man series, 2000, digital photograph, 64×48 cm
  • Samira Eskandarfar, from Mickey Mask series, 2012, painting, 200×150 cm.

© Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2014. This essay cannot be quoted, translated or published in part or as a whole without Roshanak Keyghobadi’s permission.


[i] West, S. (2004). Portraiture. Oxford University Press.

[ii] Basil Gray, Chapter 16(b) in The Cambridge History of Iran (in Seven Volumes), vol. 6, Peter Jackson and Laurence Lockhart, ed., p. 889-900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

[iii] Soucek, P. (2000). The theory and practice of portraiture in the Persian tradition.

http://cmes.hmdc.harvard.edu/files/Roxburgh_Reading1.pdf

[iv] Aghdashlou, A. (2005) Moqademeh-e bar naqashi Qajari [introduction to Qajar

painting], Herfeh Honarmad, 13. In Persian.Tehran, Iran

[xi] Interview with Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2012.

[xv] Correspondence with Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2014.

[xvii] Correspondence with Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2014.

[xviii] Wearing black nail polish can be associated with being Goth, rebellious, complex and contemporary.

[xix] Wearing red nail polish can be associated with being glamorous, passionate, courageous and bold.

Composing in Space: Tactile Poetry of Farhad Fozouni

By: Roshanak Keyghobadi | September 2013

Farhad Fozouni is a leading figure in the contemporary Iranian graphic design with an international reputation and impressive list of accomplishments and recognitions. (1) Fozouni dares himself to get out of his comfort zone for the sake of creating new aesthetic experiences and meanings for himself as well as his viewer by creating unique poems. His tactile poetry not only reveals his continuous experimentation and discovery of new forms of artistic expression but also displays his desire to fully engage his viewers by getting them to touch and feel his words/images…

Read more here at Design Observer:
http://observatory.designobserver.com/feature/composing-in-space-tactile-poetry-of-farhad-fozouni/38096/

Sadegh Barirani: Designer of the “moment”

By: Roshanak Keyghobadi | June 1, 2013

آن خطاط سه گونه خط نوشتی ،
یکی او خواندی لاغیر ،
یکی را هم او خواندی هم غیر ،
یکی نه او خواندی نه غیر او ،
آن خط سوم منم .
شمس تبریزی

That calligrapher writes in three ways,
One, only he can read it and no other,
Another, he can read it and others,
The other, neither he nor others can read it,
I am that third way.[1]
Shams Tabrizi

For over forty years Sadegh Barirani has allowed “the letters find their way and form” on paper. Using his self-made paint brush and poetry of Rumi[2] Barirani has been visually capturing unique moments of meditation and excitement. Since his brush does not hold the paint for long and he has to write/paint fast, after a while his marks become illegible, abstract and independent. The result of this investigation is Barirani’s dynamic and rhythmic style of mark making which he describes as “a recorded cardiogram reflected on paper” that “registers his internal passion.”

Barirani is one of the pioneers of Iranian graphic design and well known for his distinctive poster designs. In1967 Barirani was commissioned by the newly established Roudaki Hall opera house in Tehran to design posters for their various performances as well as the Tehran Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.  He was given total artistic freedom and also full access to the Graphic Arts Center’s workshop where he could create his silkscreen posters. Initially inspired by Polish posters, he created posters for ballets, folk dances, music recitals and operas and gradually incorporated his own expressionistic personal style as well as his signature black swift marks in his designs.

Sadegh Barirani was born on March 23, 1923 in Bandar Anzali, Gilan, Northern Province of Iran. He completed his elementary and high school in Bandar Anzali and Rasht and attended School of Fine Arts at Tehran University from 1948 to 1952[3]. In 1953 he attended classes on film and photography held by the audio-visual department of Syracuse University in Tehran and five years later he studied at Indiana University and received his M.S. in Audio Visual education. Upon his return to Iran he became the head of the graphic arts department at the Ministry of Culture and Arts in Tehran. In 1973, Milton Glazer invited him to the International Design Conference in Aspen Colorado as a distinguished modern international graphic designer and in the same year he traveled to Paris and worked and lived at the Cité Internationale des Arts.

After graduating from the university Barirani became interested in learning  more about “Western” contemporary and Avant-garde art movements[4] and traveled throughout Europe and visited museums and galleries in London, Paris and Munich.  But he soon turned to study of “Eastern” art and philosophy. He found inspiration in Sialk and Susa pottery, Persepolis reliefs, Persian miniatures, carpets and tiles and became fascinated with their meticulousness, simplicity, order and specifically the contour drawings.

Back in 1942 Barirani learned different techniques of painting in watercolor and oil painting under Amir Houshang Zarrin Kelk (Darvish) who was a student of Kamal-al Molk and also became familiar with mystical philosophy. In his interview with Saed Meshki (2006) Barirani explains

Iranian mystics are two groups. One group suppresses their excitements and has no movement …but the other believe that when the fervor and passion is boiling from the inside it has to be transferred to their bodies too; as you can see in the mystical dance of Rumi and also the dervishes of Kurdistan. Rumi also recited his poems in a state of passion and motion. The Iranian painters and calligraphers belong to the first group. The second group also engaged their bodies in their reciting and dance and movement. One day I thought of taking advantage of this motion and movement and express what we call “moment” and one feels onto paper and make it still.

One of the characteristics of Persian calligraphy is concentration and total mind/eye/hand coordination. A calligrapher is considers to be a mere instrument that is transferring the beauty of the divine into the paper and a perfect calligraphic piece is supposed to be produced painstakingly and with utter control. Persian calligraphy is not much of a kinesthetic art (as Barirani also hints) like Chinese calligraphy is. Dawn Delbanco[5] (2008) explains that in Chinese calligraphy: 

The brush becomes an extension of the writer’s arm, indeed, his entire body. But the physical gestures produced by the wielding of the brush reveal much more than physical motion; they reveal much of the writer himself-his impulsiveness, restraint, elegance, rebelliousness. Abstract as it appears, calligraphy more readily conveys emotion and something of the individual artist…

Barirani has been exploring traditional Iranian calligraphy as a medium and been inspired by two scripts of Nastaliq[6] and Shekateh-ye Nasataliq[7] that he uses in his Siyah Mashq (Black Exercise) and Siyah Neveshtan (Writing in Black). In Barirani’s writings/paintings one can easily notice his individual style, passion and spirituality. Like a Zen calligrapher Barirani creates swift marks that capture a moment in time which hold great power. This is the power of living at present and listening to the inner self which results in evolving at every moment. Barirani’s brush strokes possess such energy and sophistication that force the viewer pay attention to their movements, details, tonalities, variety and authority. This is an authority that is embedded in Barirani’s mind, body and brush.

© Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2013

Image: Poster by Sadegh Barirani, Graphic Art-The Movement toward Modernism, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, October 22, 1977.

To see more of Sadegh Barirani’s art go to: http://www.qoqnoos.com/body/graphic/sadegh%20barirani/master.htm

[1] Translated by Roshanak Keyghobadi.

[2] Rumi was a 13th century Iranian poet and Sufi mystic. Shams Tabrizi was a devotee and close friend of Rumi.

[3] Sohrab Sepehri (poet and painter, b. 1928-1980) and Manouchehr Sheibani (poet and painter, b.1924-1991) were among Barirani’s classmates at Tehran University.

[4] In 1950 Barirani joined the Khorous Janghi (Fighting Rooster) an Iranian Avant-garde art group that was trying to break away from the conservative traditional art.

[5] Delbanco, Dawn. “Chinese Calligraphy”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/chcl/hd_chcl.htm (originally published April 2008, last revised November 2008)

[6] Nastaliq script is the principal style in Persian calligraphy.

[7] Shekateh-ye Nasataliq script is broken version of Nastaliq.

 

Homa Delvaray: A contemporary Iranian graphic designer and her mission

By: Roshanak Keyghobadi | December 8, 2010

In November 2007, a group of young graphic designers from various parts of Iran who grew up after Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979 put together a poster exhibition called Rokhsat. As they explained in the exhibition statement, in Iran’s traditional sports, a young wrestler asks for rokhsat (permission) from the elders when he presents in the ring. The group demanded rokhsat from the generations before them (and their viewers) to present their design innovations and artistic visions. This was an open invitation for a glimpse at contemporary design practices in Iran and specially a venue for identifying the new generation of Iranian women designers1.

In contemporary Iran vigorous engagement by a large group of women graphic designers in all aspects of design practice and pedagogy has been an undeniably powerful force, and their presence in the national and international art and design arenas is making the new face of Iranian graphic design visible. Among this group one designer stands out for her unique style and extraordinary personal visual language: Homa Delvaray.

Delvaray is not only active in designing posters, books, CD covers, logos and creating Persian and Roman fonts, but also teaches college-level drawing and illustration, serves as an editorial board member of Dabireh2 design collective and Rang Magazine (a graphic design magazine online). She regularly exhibits her work inside and outside Iran, and her designs have been featured in several national and international publications related to design and typography.

In an introduction to her recent virtual exhibition3, Delvaray declares that “the essence of art is creativity and confrontation.” She explains: “I do not believe that transmitting the client’s message to the viewer in the easiest possible way is the only mission of the graphic designer… If a graphic designer is supposed to have a commitment, it would be finding a new way of communication for what he/she has to say in order to relate to the viewer. There are no pre-assigned general rules to help achieve this goal sooner. The designer has to choose and try new approaches to challenge himself/herself.” Delvaray believes that by simplifying design and making it obvious to the viewer a designer would insult the intelligence of the viewer and assumes that they are not able to “solve a simple riddle” or “comprehend complicated relationships.”

Delvaray’s works can be described as complex, enigmatic, dynamic, challenging, packed (conceptually and formally), and of course confrontational. Her wayfinding and experiments may start with basic typographic practices but end up with highly sophisticated design methods and approaches. Learning from visual traditions of Iran, from miniature painting and lithography to metal work and carpet designs, Delvaray layers, twists, turns, stretches, stitches, weaves and gives dimension to elements of her designs and paints them with vibrant colors associated with Iranian arts and crafts.

What makes Delvaray works challenging and confrontational is the way she mixes and matches local and global cultural codes and signs and simultaneously conceals and reveals the intentions of her designs. She actively involves her viewers by presenting them with fascinating formal and conceptual visual conundrums. For example, at first glance Delvaray’s 2007 poster design for the Contemporary Iranian Graphic Design 9th Biennale titled Goftegoo (Dialogue) resembles a primary sketch for a carpet design with a symmetrical composition and highly decorative and ornamental nature. Flowers and paisleys dominate the visual space yet when looking closer an array of icons, symbols and mechanical objects such as emoticons, punctuations, letters, numbers and cellphones come to surface. The monochromatic treatment of motifs and visual elements gives them the same importance yet touches of yellow are subtle points of emphasis in the entire poster.

Delvaray explains the idea behind this design4: “Chatting or sending SMS [Short Message Service] are tools of communication which have the most usage in today’s world. [An] increasing number of digital services has contributed to this mode of communication which has entered our culture and created a new culture with limited and incorrect syntax and has forced us to unintentionally use abbreviated and meaningless words and has created Penglish [Persian English]. Yellow is the sign for danger. There is a danger in choosing to have dialogues of this kind. Using Iranian motifs and combining them with the elements of the virtual world is an attempt to show how Iranian culture is changing and confronted with the increasing spread of tools of communication and the way it is adopting them.”

In the field of graphic design and visual communication, aesthetic and artistic practices can invent and introduce imaginative spaces for revealing and challenging cultural and political obstacles and limitations. Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller5 state: “Design can critically engage the mechanics of representation, exposing and revising its ideological biases; design can also remake the grammar of communication by discovering structures and patterns within the material media of the visual and verbal writing.” John Bowers6 argues that the engagement of designers and their active role in the production of culture has significant social and political meaning. “Designers are more than makers, observers, or controllers of information and ideas. At their best, designers are participants in the creation, critique and dissemination of culture.”

What distinguishes Delvaray’s work is her sensitivity and meticulous way of putting together complex ideas and elements with diverse visual histories and components, and assigning new meanings to their new identities. She looks at the “old” and “traditional” visual elements as “raw materials”  to work with and rejuvenates them by using them in contemporary contexts. “I am not interested in pleasing the viewer but I am aiming to excite them with my new works and ideas,” Delvaray says. “I would like to work on the viewers’ taste and perception.” She believes that designers can change the “collective taste” of a society and culture by respecting their viewers’ intelligence and educating them via thought-provoking and powerful designs.

© Roshanak Keyghobadi, 2010

1 The women designers of the Rokhsat exhibition were: Shahrzad Changalvaee (b.1983), Asieh Dehghani (b.1982), Homa Delvaray (b.1980), Maryam Enayati (b.1978), Zeynab Izadyar (b.1984), Zeinab Shahidi (b.1983), Reyhaneh Sheikhbahaey (b.1980) and Soha Shirvani (b.1980).

2 Dabireh is also the title of a journal of “critical writings and professional commentary” on typography. The founder and chief editor of Dabireh is Reza Abedni. Abedini is a prominent Iranian graphic designer who has introduced the Iranian contemporary design and typography on an international level. The majority of Dabireh’s editorial board members—such as Farhad Fouzouni, Homa Delvaray and Shahrzad Changalvaee—are former students of Abedini and among the most successful and innovative young designers in contemporary Iran.

3 Homa Delvaray exhibition at VitrinRooz.com, February 24 to March 9, 2010.

4 E-mail correspondence with author, August 2010.

5 Lupton, E., and Miller, A., Design Writing Research: Writing on Graphic Design. London: Phaidon Press, 1996. (p. 23)

6 Bowers, J.,Introduction to Two-dimensional Design: Understanding Form and Function. Canada: John Wiley & Sons, 1999. (p. 13)

Image: Homa Delvaray, Goftegoo (Dialogue), 2007 poster design for the Contemporary Iranian Graphic Design 9th Biennale.

*This article was originally published in AIGA’s VOICE on December 8, 2010.
http://www.aiga.org/homa-delvaray-a-contemporary-iranian-graphic-designer-and-her-mission/

*To see Homa Delvaray’s works visit http://www.homadelvaray.com/