Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Islamabad: Influenced by the Sufi spirituality and Iranian history and culture, Mohsen Keiany, an Iranian artist showcased an exquisite collection of his 15 contemporary art paintings titled ‘Spirituality’ here at Khaas Art Gallery (KAG) on Tuesday.
Keiany, the Iranian painter more than being attached to the familiar nature is fond of the intangible world to shape, manifest and register the extremity of his imagination in the most attractive fashion. He contemplates some spirituality for his artwork beyond the entities pre-dominating the unstable material life. For Keiany, only an art faithful to humanism and its more general concepts can be permanent and long lasting, that is why his artworks get applause, all over the world.
‘Spirituality’ by Keiany, is a glossy cluster of 15 canvases that exude an aura of mystery and spiritualism. Keiany, a British of Persian lineage has previously exhibited his work in a number of cities in England and Iran. The images invariably feature bearded men, mostly with their eyes closed, and some with only one eye which stares somewhat vacantly into an arcane void. These men are supposed to be in some kind of trance, induced no doubt by an acute bout of meditation. The total detachment of the Sufi that Keiany is trying to portray can also be found in Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and in the philosophy of the ancient Chinese thinker Lao-tse.
Holding a PhD degree in Architecture from UCE, Birmingham, Keiany’s canvases carry a lot of horses, some ready to carry warriors into battle, others that are just an adornment in a composition. In one picture the animals line up at an imaginary starting gate, as if they are about to compete in the St Leger, while a girl with a flute stands by idly.
Deeply etched into every canvas is a strip of Persian calligraphy, an embellishment that greatly heightens the appeal of every picture.
The calligraphy, in fact, has a beauty all its own and could easily form the subject of another exhibition. At times the words appear in the form of an aura around a head, giving the holy one a touch of sanctified righteousness. But usually it appears as a cluster of dense writing or in strips as in a Japanese print.
The five most satisfying and thought-provoking of these paintings including ‘The Horse Shepherd’, ‘The Blue Sufis’, ‘Chashm- Entazar’, ‘Bahar and Horses’ and ‘The Rule of Life’ are outstanding and noteworthy.
The way the horsemen face each other, totally oblivious to the impending peril, fired by the thought of imminent victory, is quite riveting and the use of colour which starts off as a splash of beige, graduates to a brown and ends in a muted turquoise is absolutely marvelous.
Another fascinating composition in many of Keiany’s collection features the great Persian poet Hafiz Shirazi, Maulana Rumi, Shiekh Saadi and Umar Khayyam’s poetry and philosophy. Most notable in the composition apart from the figure of the poet is the enchanting geometric patterns and textures.
Talking to Daily Times Keiany said his work was deeply influenced by his Persian backgrounds. “Historical, religious and cultural themes feature strongly, especially the influence of Sufi spirituality and my experience in the Iran-Iraq war. My art can contribute not just to the aesthetic pleasure that people will experience but also enhance their understanding of diverse art traditions,” he said.
The solo show of Keiany’s paintings open the window to the scintillating world of Sufism with all its symbols, metaphors and allegories. The show would remain open for public view at Khaas Art Gallery (House No 1, Street No 2, F.6/3) till May 3.