by Anna Seaman, The National
If you want a reason to visit Reza Derakhshani's solo show at Salsali Private Museum, the fact that the main installation has completely changed since it was unveiled during Art Week is a good one.
The black-sand snakes that the artist shaped with a common house brush before the opening in March have been swept away and replaced with skulls that lie at the base of the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. The area has also been curtained off and filled with black light. To see the glowing shape of Pasargadae, you must peek through cut-out eyeholes. Its dynamism, colour and theme summarise the exhibition.
The exhibit was originally planned as a retrospective show, but Derakhshani was not content with something so static, so he took his old paintings, characterised by vivid colours and Persian iconography, and created new ones. The mostly monochrome and muted tones illustrate dark internal processes that stem from the destruction Derakhshani is witnessing in his homeland.
"Being sensitive, you cannot escape it," he says in a slow and thoughtful manner that reflects his pensive creativity. "I'm not into political slogans but to a certain point I don't mind if it is expressed it in a poetic way."