Artist Statement

As an immigrant artist, my Iranian background and my Canadian experience have had an enormous influence on my works, creating a negotiation between the modern and the ancient, the old and the new, the West and the East.  Ancient ruins and Persian Architecture play a pivotal role in my paintings, and have enabled me to express the conflict and the negotiation process that often exists between two different cultures or societies. While these ruins speak of a mysterious, pure and mystical past, they also illustrate the corrosive nature that time, modernity and constant reconfiguration of space can have on a country’s landscape, architecture and its culture.  Consequently, these paintings attempt to form a bridge between the past and the present.

For me these works deal with the present and the future, as much as they refer to the past. In many ways, similar to the ruins themselves, these paintings speak of a transient process that is constantly changing and evolving. This subject matter speaks of a past that was seemingly dominant, pure and mythical, while expressing a cultural present that exhibits decay, domination by the cultural and economical ‘core’, and is under pressure by the modernization process. These paintings attempt to capture these processes – and their effects – through the use of layers and textures that reveal the nuances of the cultural responses to such changes.

Another noticeable aspect of these works is that they seem to be devoid of life – particularly of the human existence. However, these works strive to reveal the accumulated impact of the human society, and their constant negotiation with their landscape through architecture. These ruins speak of a historic society that created magnificent objects, and forcefully shaped their environment. At the same time, they also reveal a present condition that is mainly influenced by outside pressures, and is at the mercy of the global economy and culture, rendering this ancient culture as the subordinate or the marginal. However, these works could also speak of the resilience of a historic culture, one that has been abused but not destroyed. Therefore, through these works one could find patience, humility and perseverance.

These paintings create an important dialogue, as they were conceived in Canada – a young, modern, and energetic country. The viewer is immediately exposed to the contrast between the ancient and the mystical with the modern and the powerful, given that these paintings are contained in the western (and modern) space of the art gallery. Being an Iranian Canadian has allowed me to see the possibility of bridging the gap between the two seemingly contrasting cultures, while recognizing the human connections that transcend time, space, borders and societies. Thus, I hope that these works enable the viewer to experience the negotiation process at an elemental and emotional level.

In order to achieve this, I employ a variety of mixed media techniques including acrylic, collage, gesso and script in the painting process. My work can be found in public and private collections in Canada, USA, UK, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Sorour Abdollahi