‘I always thought to myself why we should not paint a portrait in an abstract form. An abstract portrait gives the artist liberty to look beyond the appearance into subject in a symbolic way. There are many unspoken secrets within a portrait that once revealed, present a very different world. It is a world much more interesting than the world of appearance. Every artist has his unique way of depicting his subjects if he tries to detach himself from the appearance.’ (Koorosh Shishegaran quoted in A. Daneshvari “Dionysian Energies” in Art Tomorrow, No. 3, 201, p. 169).
With an oeuvre boasting unparalleled depth and dizzying abstraction, Iranian artist Koorosh Shishegaran has created an easily recognisable and truly unique visual lexicon. The momentum of his eternal spirals and fascinating colour wheels amalgamate to produce canvases which not only exude an unparalleled sense of dynamism, but also introduce an unprecedented artistic sensibility to the world of contemporary Middle Eastern art. With the unusual ability to pay homage to Iran’s Modernists whilst also bringing about a new contemporary flair, the artist breaks the all the norms when approaching line as the focus of his work.
One of the most distinguishing features of Shishegaran’s paintings is his ability to manipulate line. While it can be said that the dynamic swirling lines across his canvases have their roots in calligraphy, the beautifully delicate and elegantly crafted script widely practiced by Islamic artists, the power of Shishegaran’s linear manifestations can be said to have far more complex meanings to the artist. These billowing lines, intricate coils and rounded forms also recall the intricacies of Persian architecture which the artist uses to construct an abstracted reality across his canvases. Eschewing recognisable imagery in favour of bold, rhythmic lines which travel diagonally, horizontally, and vertically across the work, they move to create unusual silhouettes which the artist often uses in place of figural or object representation. By removing discernable characters from his paintings, the artist encourages the viewer to seek clarity from their imagination.
This is not to say however, that the artist did not seek inspiration from objects and artifacts from the real world. With a profound belief in his artistic talent, the artist boasts a visual language which not only encourages the engagement and imagination of the viewer, but also suggests a reliance on deciphering the meanings within his beautifully thought out lines. Prompted by the title, Teapot painted in 1991, Shishegaran encourages the viewer to seek clarity from what seems to be a whirlwind of lines and dizzying geometrical forms.
While humble in its breadth of colour, the work is monumental in its geometric composition. As though stretching for an eternity, almost as if we are only seeing a part of a painting that may have no end, the timelessness of Shishegaran’s work cannot be denied. Placed against a white background, this particular painting gives precedence to thick black ribbons which swirl to form circular and linear shapes across the canvas. While more closely packed in some areas, it is set off by cool linear reliefs brought about by colour blocking. Through the use of red, white, blue and black the artist creates a vibrant canvas which gives the impression of spontaneity, while in fact being meticulously thought out.