After her parents were murdered in Tehran, Parastou Forouhar was exiled to Germany. Just like her parents, Forouhar is critical of the Iranian government, and it is with this adherence to and separation from her Iranian identity that her work is based. Forourhar says, “The production of identity, and the repressive mechanisms by which it is reified, comprise the focus of my work. My homeland, Iran, is a constant theme in my artistic practice, but the conception is complex and continuously in flux. Beyond Iran, there is also the collective memory of Germany, where I have lived since 1991. When I arrived there, I was Parastou Forouhar, but I have since become ‘Iranian.’ Every space I inhabit is accompanied by a feeling of displacement.”
For her “Written Room” project, Forouhar covers the blank surfaces of gallery and museum spaces with Persian calligraphy. This creates an elegant aesthetic that is fragmented and fluid. “Whereas the white walls of the gallery room are raised to a universal norm and an unmarked instance, the Oriental ornament stands for difference or the deviating.The writing is also strange, if not alien, because it is illegible for Western visitors – as an ‘incomprehensible’ text it becomes a pure ornament. In defying attempts by Western visitors to assign it meaning, the script remains locked into its irreducible pictorial graphicness and indissoluble representation.” Even if one had a grasp of the Persian language, they would only be able to decipher fragments and syllables of the language that are not part of any linear order. Forouhar’s work ultimately seeks to bridge the gaps in her identity as an Iranian and German. (via fubiz)
The art of Ala Ebtekar is as simple as it is effective. Ebtekar was born in the United States and raised in California but retained a strong connection to the land of his heritage, Iran. You can nearly see in Ebtekar’s work a gazing at home from far away, a sort of portal. Ebtekar is definitely referencing the cosmic with this work. He says of the Sufi influence behind his work, “Sufis believe that existence is of two natures – both earthly and divine – and it’s that transition between these two states that’s represented by an arch. The arch could be in architecture, but it could also be a beloved’s eyebrow, and how that’s an entrance to that other space.” Ebtekar also subtly uses Western imagery in addressing this “other space” – you’ll notice some of these pieces printed on the back of science fiction movie posters.
A1One (aka Tanha) has claimed his influences to be as diverse as Australian Aboriginal art to Mayan narrative hieroglyphics, but what stands out most in his recent works is his strong connection to his Persian heritage and his Iranian homeland. A1One has been gaining recognition lately and rightfully so. His colorful, intricate scrawls on Tehran’s walls and canvases artfully blend Arabic calligraphy with current street culture, as well as address social issues around the globe.
Exploring the gestures and movements of calligraphy, nantes-based artist kaalam (aka julien breton) has created a body of work that uses hand-held light and long-exposure photographic techniques to capture the transient form within a real setting. often utilizing urban or historical sites as his three-dimensional canvas, the self-taught artist creates his own latin-based alphabet that heavily draws from traditional arabic and eastern calligraphy. arresting and provocative, the floating light forms are not mere superimposed subjects but display a direct engagement with the surroundings.
the capturing process, which can take as long as ten minutes, requires a choreographed movement which kaalam practices before hand in heavy repetition. different colours of ‘ink’ is achieved through pigmented gelatin which is applied directly onto the lamps. none of the photographs are retouched or edited, illustrating the laborious process in a single shot.
German artist Heike Weber creates paintings and drawings by utilizing techniques of heavy repetition. Some of these pieces are purely textural, like the blue ballpoint pen drawings (after the jump), though I think the ones I like the best are in his “Kilims” series, which seem to reference Eastern calligraphic styles.
While in Dubai & Sharjah I had the chance to see some amazing arabic and persian calligraphy. If you’ve ever been into typography or graffiti you will surely walk away from this region with a renewed appreciation for the amazing calligraphy you find around every corner.