The renowned artist, painter and musician Reza Derakshani is prized for his vibrantly coloured and expressive canvases that captivate the viewer and transports them to a fantastical world of intense beauty alluding to Persian culture and traditions. It is often said that Derakshani treats his canvases like a performative construction; bringing together his love and passion for music with his love for art.
His creations and particularly his use of a hypnotising and thick brushstrokes and layers resonate with a spirituality that allows the viewer to revel in the expressive and enchanting materiality of his works. In this sense, in the present work, entitled Shirin and Khosrow one cannot help but hear the poetic movements of the surface just as much as one views the paint and defined brush movements across the canvas.
Drawing inspiration from the famous tragic romance of the Sassanian King Khosrow II for the Armenian princess Shirin, within the Shahnama, Derakshani captures the moment where the two meet and with his melodious application of gold and brown hues of paint, each one of these vibrant brushstrokes marks a distinct moment of creative methodology. Building complex layers, which are interspersed by shimmering bursts of gold reflections in what appears to be an abstract composition of intense and eerily brilliant colours, the artist manages to highlight this magical and sacred moment where the two ill-fated lovers meet. Constructed almost like lacquer, the surface of the work resonates with contrasting and complementary sensations of opacity and luminosity - the thick layers interfered with by a pallet knife to reveal a quick peek at what lies beneath, a gold shimmer, or dark abstract shape, that is quickly concealed by another thick dash of resplendent yellow.
By referencing the vocabulary of traditional delicate scenes in Persian miniatures, the echo of cultural tradition, nature and visual poetry is combined with inventive contrasts of colour breathing new life into a traditional subject matter whilst harmonising a beautiful sense of nostalgia into his works. Although comprehension of Shirin and Khosrow is intrinsically linked to a cultural understanding and awareness of the artist's heritage, Derakshani manages to bridge the gap between history and the present, between modern and contemporary and between Eastern and Western traditions that offer a timeless and universal appreciation of his works.