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The beauty of nothing
Bronze sculptures

By Parviz Tanavoli
August 14, 2000
The Iranian

My 1965 sculpture exhibition at the Borghese Gallery in Tehran generated nothing but criticism and hostility, but one item endured and went on to earn recognition, proving to be the beginning of a new phase for me. In the upper part of this composition was a plastic circle enclosing the word heech (nothing) also in plastic and shaped in beautiful Persian script. Below were hands, executed in plaster, grasping a copper grille.

I cannot say what it was the impelled me to create this piece -- whether I was anxious about having reached a point of nothingness and was trying to ward off the tendency, or whether I wanted to succumb to it and bring it to realization as a creative source.

The artistic environment of the time, the school whose methods and pedagogy I could not believe in, the thinkers and artists who daily trumpeted some new artistic phenomenon from the West, and the aristocrats who proudly bought their second-hand merchandise, provoked in me a reaction of protest: heech was the voice of protest...

My nothingness, however, was not tinged with the cynicism of Western artists. Mine was the nothingness of hope and friendship, a nothingness that did not seek to negate. In my mind, it was not life that amounted to nothing, but rather nothing which brimmed with life itself.
-- HAL magazine, London, June/July 2000

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