Combining a fierce command of the traditional art form with new techniques, Mohammad Bozorgi is transforming calligraphy practice.
“Dance in the Dark” features many new works, including never before seen silkscreen prints.
From 23 May to 30 August 2017, Ayyam Gallery Dubai (DIFC) exhibits “Dance in the Dark”, a solo exhibition by Tehran-based artist Mohammad Bozorgi (b. 1978). The exhibition coincides with Ramadan, and features new paintings and silkscreen prints in Bozorgi’s trademark style.
An accomplished calligrapher, Bozorgi originally studied biomedical engineering before turning to visual arts at the Society of Iranian Calligraphers. Refining his creative practice, Bozorgi became well known as a part of a new generation of calligraphers. He developed stylised characters based on his knowledge of ten distinct Arabic and Persian scripts, extending the calligraphy tradition through experimental formalism.
Bozorgi creates precise mathematical structures and symmetry in his work, innovating the form of the script while maintaining its meaning. In an interview, he explained his practice and what led him to experiment with the traditional form:
After all these classical practices, I started to work with canvases, colours and other materials, I studied graphic and was really keen to try new things, just like now. I have no fear to deform the letters, similar to a child playing with kid’s clay! Unlike many other calligraphers, I prefer to suffuse my canvas from letters, as Jackson Pollock did by colours. I am living with words and letters, they are dynamic in my works and frames cannot restrict their motion.
Bozorgi draws from many influences in his creative practice, including Jackson Pollock, Escher, Andy Warhol, Victor Vazarely and Iranian calligrapher Mr. Movahhed. He pushes his work in new directions with the belief that calligraphers now need to develop their own way of communicating because “over centuries and decades, our leading calligraphers have said what we should say. So we must try to bring new forms to grab the attention of viewers.”
The exhibition “Dance in the Dark” features many new works from Bozorgi, including silkscreen prints, which are a new direction for his practice and are displayed for the first time. The prints are another example of how he pushes the boundaries of the traditional form. Bozorgi developed his own printmaking tools that could accommodate the centuries-old tradition of calligraphy, as well as allowing printmaking techniques to influence him in new directions.
The theme of this exhibition takes off from the 2016 show “Against the Darkness”, also held at Ayyam Gallery Dubai. Both exhibitions seek to throw light on beauty and hope, rather than the wars that are ravaging the Middle East. Filled with colour, the works contemplate the splendour of the universe, with particular focus on the tranquillity and magnificence of the natural world.
In an interview, Bozorgi describes how he attempts to convey emotion and experiences in his work:
It is difficult to show some sense of emotion with pure calligraphy. Calligraphy (compared to painting, photography or video art) has no potential to show subject matter such as war, peace, poverty, or hunger. I have tried to convey meaning with colour, meaningful words, composition, and in the titles of works. For example, in Martyred Child (Damascus) I have written the following words in Arabic: history, martyred child, freedom, war, regret, tears, and blood, in order to show our responsibility to history.
In another of the works in the exhibition, Blossoms Rain (2017), Bozorgi uses greens, blues and purples to evoke organic forms resting on a grey bedrock, alluding to a sense of infinite space through his trademark use of colour and pattern.
- “Something for the Touts, the Nuns, the Grocery Clerks and You”: Iranian artist Farhad Ahrarnia at Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai – February 2017 – Farhad Ahrarnia explores urban spaces and the effects of modernisation in his recent solo exhibition
- Challenging tradition through colour and form: Iranian calligrapher Mohammad Bozorgi – interview – July 2016 – innovative calligrapher protests contemporary themes with stunning scripts
- “The Breeze on Dawn”: Iran’s Reza Derakshani at Sophia Contemporary – in pictures– April 2016 – near sold-out show inaugurates new gallery space in London
- Iran beyond conflict: the colourful world of Sassan Behnam Bakhtiar – interview– March 2016 – artist uncovers the “true nature of Iran” with bright patterning and black and white photography
- “Where We Are Standing”: 3 contemporary Iranian women artists at Edward Hopper House Art Center– February 2016 – popular exhibition brings together works from artists born before the Iranian Revolution and currently residing in North America
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