Art Aware is a non-profit-making blog that monitors all that’s interesting in the world of contemporary art, literature and culture in Iran and in the Iranian worldwide diaspora.
It is a review and commentary of new exhibitions, events and developments in art media in Iran and in the West. I am a working artist and also an academic art historian.
Shahpour Pouyan, Mohsin Jamalinik and Mansour Rafei come together in a group exhibition, Vivid, Vibrant and Iranian, and express themselves through various approaches. Through this exhibition art lovers can get an opportunity to witness a variety of meaningful themes and styles.
Pouyan's four paintings in this show have been selected from his Tower series, inspired by Islamic Middle Eastern architectural forms and structures in uncluttered, empty surroundings.
Jamalinik displays paintings from the series From Ideas to Meanings, which, in contrast to his very heavy ideological work, are splendid canvases in simple monochrome colours.
Rafei, who was brought up in a family in the couture business, is inspired by tailoring and stitching.
Each artist sees life and expresses it in his own way. Pouyan sees art as a weapon. His concepts revolve around the relationship between power and wealth.
He says: "The concept I have depicted in this exhibition concentrates on very important parts of Iranian architecture. So the towers in my paintings refer to an indefinite period of Iranian history. Very tall and stretched, symbolic and ambitious, with phallic forms at times, they refer to the patriarchal culture of Iranian tribes.
"The Soltanieh Mausoleum in Iran is a good example of making a memorial — without any apparent use except as the sign of remembrance.
"It is a memorial to the Mongols, who killed one million Persians. It is just a symbol of domination. It's mankind's way to make them immortal."
He codes elements of power, wealth and history on his canvas and is determined to convey a message.
"I have some issues and questions. Our life is so complicated. I have a problem with war, wealth and domination. And I tirelessly look for an answer to arrive at a solution on how we can change that," Pouyan says.
Asked about the art movement his paintings follow, he says: "My art swings between Expressionism and Surrealism but in this Post-Modern era, there are some Persian influences and additions. I am attracted to the Sixties period in the United States. I also cherish new forms of structure and beauty."
Speaking about the artists whose works he appreciates, he says: "I idealise the art of David Hockney for a number of reasons. For instance, his accuracy in employing colours and techniques in his paintings is remarkable."
His artistic philosophy exceeds the colourful borders of art and reaches the actual frontiers of life.
He says: "Art provides a way for life to be more bearable and livable."
What about his upcoming work? "My new work is a series of canvases with a concept similar to this exhibition. However, they are presented in new forms and objects and represent a new synthesis between beauty and power."
Asked to whom he dedicates his success, he says: "I attribute my success to my family and friends, who have constantly and sincerely supported me."
If he were to choose Dubai as a subject for his work, what would the painting depict? He says: "I guess it would be in the form of a building because the emirate lives in a revolutionary age of exotic architecture."
"Art is a way to illustrate ideas and dreams hidden in different layers of your mind. Art is a particular way of thinking which can be expressed through painting or other mediums," says Jamalinik, whose ten monochromatic works are on display at the exhibition.
Jamalinik's concept is centred upon the importance of colours. "I am exhibiting artworks in monochrome to emphasise a particular colour and to draw attention to the importance that colour plays either in art and beauty or in learning its impact on the environment and in our daily life."
"I've always felt that my art creates questions rather than gives answers," he says. "Through my art I search for alternative channels to deal with contemporary issues. I enquire from others and from modern society to find the answers."
Asked about his favourite school of art, he says: "My art belongs more to Post-Modernism. However, my favourite is Impressionism, which, I think, contemporary art owes a lot to."
Which artist would he like to learn from? He says: "Van Gogh is my favourite painter." Asked if any international or Arab artist has caught his attention, he says: "I love Iraqi contemporary art the most for its strong techniques."
Jamalinik says: "Art is conceived by re-creating childhood memories and positively reacting to dissatisfactions and weaknesses. "Art is the definition of the way that we see the world and how we understand others and our surroundings."
Since his artworks in the present exhibition accentuate the significant role of colours in life, what colours would he like to employ in his paintings and why? And is there any particular reason?
He says: "All colours are important and attractive whether they are seen independently or merged with others. This is exactly what I attempt to express through the series by covering the whole canvas in a single colour." Asked about his future plans, he says: "I intend to continue painting on social and political subjects with extra emphasis on the issues that we deal with in our daily lives.
"I aspire to make my paintings as simple and direct as possible to be self-explanatory to people."
He dedicates his success and accomplishments in art to Van Gogh.
Being obsessed with colours, if he were to paint Dubai, which colour would he select? He says: "I would choose a plain single colour of amber, the desert shade of authenticity and pride."
Rafei, an admirer of Jackson Pollock, sees art as a sort of entertainment and likes to invent new forms of art.
"I think the most important thing in an artwork is the visual attraction," Rafei says. He tries to use bright and vivid colours to create an aura of joy and happiness in his paintings, eight of which can be seen in this exhibition.
The abstract expressionist's upcoming project consists of a series of paintings. "I'm working on a series of paintings with white background and very minimal stitching to create an impression of sky with birds flying there," he says.
He dedicates his art and success to Fereydoun Ave, an Iranian artist, curator and art collector.
"He was the first one to pay particular attention to my work. And I highly appreciate that," Rafei says.
Dubai would be represented as a palm tree in his painting. "I think the palm tree is the best picture to mirror Dubai's history and roots," he said.
Vivid, Vibrant and Iranian is on at the Total Arts at the Courtyard, Dubai, until August 31.
A work by Mohsin Jamalinik from his series 'From Ideas to Meanings'
Shahpour Pouyan draws inspiration from Islamic Middle Eastern architecture