Golnaz Fathi in Shanghai
Golnaz Fathi’s work features in a new selling exhibition, The Living Road, at Shanghai’s Pearl Lam Galleries 15 September-10 November, 2013.
Golnaz Fathi forms part of a group of multidisciplinary artists that evolved from the generation born in Iran in the 1970s. The Living Road features 23 of her works in a variety of media, including pen on canvas, acrylic on canvas and LED light works, alongside two acrylic on canvas works exhibited at Art Forum in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 2011 and Iran’s pavilion at the Shanghai Biennale in 2012 respectively.
The exhibition demonstrates the growing interest worldwide in Iranian art, initiated by major exhibitions at the Barbican Gallery, London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; LACMA, Los Angeles; and the forthcoming exhibition, Iran Modern, at Asia Society in New York.
Golnaz Fathi’s work draws on the discipline of Persian calligraphy reinterpreted through an abstract gestural style. Her work is also inspired by Abstract Expressionism and the work of Middle Eastern Modernists from the 1950s and 1960s who employed the written word as a pictorial element. Fathi’s work has been collected extensively by major public and private collections including the British Museum, London; the Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi, India; The Farjam Collection, Dubai; and Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore.
The Living Road features a series of pen on canvas works inspired by the technique of Siah Mashgh, which translates literally as ‘black practice,’ the calligrapher’s warm-up exercise whereby letters are repeated over and over again until the paper is entirely covered in black ink. Golnaz Fathi sees this process as the most artistic part of traditional calligraphy. She says, “My artistic aim has been to transform calligraphy from words into forms. I treat the letters as a form — I make them float or dance on my canvas. Like a journey of sorts, I take the words up and down, moving to different places that end nowhere. The origin comes from my meditations; perhaps sometimes it ends in stillness, a stillness that talks. They can be read as a visual meditation or a form of prayer. Being restricted by so many rules in traditional calligraphy made me break all the rules and treat the letters just the way I want to. This inspiration comes from my own culture. I am proud of my country’s very rich cultural heritage which in turn has greatly inspired me.”
Amongst the other media represented in the exhibition, the light boxes particularly highlight the unique forms in Fathi’s work as the glow of the letters and lines emerge from the bold black boxes.
Born in Tehran in 1972, the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war were predominant elements in the background of Fathi’s upbringing. The disturbing effects of these events cannot be dismissed from her work, which asks for pause and contemplation. She studied classical calligraphy at the Iranian Society of Calligraphy in Tehran, practicing writing Persian for up to eight hours a day for six years and is one of a small number of female Iranian artists to have trained at such a high level. She has received a number of awards including the Best Woman Calligraphist in Ketabat Style in 1995 by the Iranian Society of Calligraphy in Tehran, and was chosen by one of the juries at the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennale in 2011. She has also exhibited in museums and galleries in Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Dubai, Korea, Germany and London. In 2012, she was granted a residence permit in France and she currently lives and works in Tehran.
Golnaz Fathi: The Living Road. 15 September-10 November, 2013. Pearl Lam Galleries, 181 Middle Jiangxi Road, G/F, Shanghai, China 200002. Buy a Link on this page