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Farrokh Shayesteh
October 14, 2004

Every living culture uses art as a vehicle for expressing the collective experience of its members; it is a sociocultural phenomenon. Art is universal only in the sense that every human society, no matter how small, has it. However, the real understanding of art and its emotional effect is possible within a cultural framework. Living cultures and their art mirror each other, and so the best in them is broadcast. Waves reflecting waves and on so many different shores >>> Paintings


Traditional eastern art has a strong influence on my work. My earliest training was under Persian masters with whom I worked for a number of years. A certain kind of Persian miniature, which was a dominant force in the development of my work, was initiated during the 19th century in Shiraz, my own city of birth and childhood.


The Balinese say, "We have no art, everything we do is art." The Persian miniature is the microcosmic expression of the greater human art form. This is also true of its traditional mode of production, a team consisting of a master ostad and his disciples work up to several weeks on a single piece. In truth they are humble artisans, for their lives, collectively and individually are greater works than their art. Like other workers they come together daily in their almost ritual reintegration of their mutual joys and sorrows. They find and stir each other to wakefulness by the nuances of detail expressed in the miniature, knowing that only they are awake who can walk and talk in the same dream vision, just as the Native American sand paintings are meant to evoke a unified tribal vision.


In the beginning, I found the use of Persian motifs enjoyable, even necessary. Now, they merely appear when they want to. Additionally, throughout maturity, certain traditional mode of painting has remained; while others have been discarded or transformed. Distinct is my use of light, which sometimes eats things, absorbs them. Where does the light come from? It always comes from inside, but its reflection is outside.

"Break the heart of any atom and in its center
its own sun you'll see." (H.S. -circa 1300)


You may search until doomsday to find even a trace of shadow in a Persian miniature. Why are there no shadows? Consider the enigmatic old Persian sufi saying: "He become so thin even his shadow deserted him". So light is information, and I am neither ostad, nor a mischievous team of disciples. My shadow has deserted me. I am an other.


The process is a slow formation of the idea: a three dimensional network of dots, the transparency of watercolor allowing the very bottom layers of dots to blend with the upper layers. I am fascinated by dots. Rain drops. The sands of deserts or ocean shores. Stars. Dust. Atoms and molecules. From a distance people are moving spots. Even, or especially, the age of electronic consciousness is made of dots. So we artisans, in praxis and practice, work until all and every species of dust and dots express their hidden luminosity.


As to scale. While initially the small scale of my work was a matter of tradition, training, habit, and convenience, it later became clear that the provocative intimacy inherent in miniature is essential to my expression. It is the sheer diminutive quality which whispers to the viewer, compelling to come closer. For that which started as traditional, gradually became more meaningful-from the intuitive to a kind of sacred.


Privacy as intimacy makes "things" grow. You may"obtain" from the common outside ground, but it always obtains form in this damned but without doubt specially blessed, private and special intimacy. It works both ways. Without doubt without this special intimate privacy "khalvat" nothing living can be brought to the common ground >>> Paintings

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Book of the day

Lost Treasures of Persia
Persian Art in the Hermitage Museum
by Vladimir Loukonine


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