During our visit to Art Dubai this year, we met with leading Iranian surrealist Nicky Nojoumi and curator and sculptural artist Taraneh Hemami.
As a person, Nodjoumi is seriously relaxed and down to earth, a trait that surfaces in his paintings; his calm manner manifests in his own unique approach to subject matter. Even from an early stage Nodjoumi was exploring ways of expressing himself, diverging from the path taken by many a Middle Eastern artist, and instead embracing the techniques extolled by iconic surrealists and expanding them into his own style. Since the ’70s, Nodjoumi was living and working in New York, but only since 2003 has he been exhibiting his imagined jigsaws of humans and animals and exploring the haunting, featureless arena of his imaginary landscapes. The jigsaw, Nodjoumi states, is a direct reference to the body blown apart by war, as seen in Baghdad, during the American-Iraq War of 2003. Often Nodjoumi will bring into the composition the absurd, “creating a kind of satire in all that stillness“, where actions seems stunted, and colour tones suggest a kind of dull surrender – of an intriguing, sometimes complicated set up.
Hemami, on the other hand, is known to explore the complexities of the cultural sensitivity of exile, via both personal and collective projects and installations. She is also based in the US, in California, and was also born in Iran as was Nodjoumi. Through her multi-disciplinary work she explores the nature of perception, recognition, and representation, topics all Iranians abroad have to consider at one point in their lives when they find their nationality and ethnicity and country of origin are perceived by their host country. Pictured right, Hemami’s porcelain tears, marked with hand-written words in Persian, and hanging disembodied in the darkness, represent a similar harm, and infliction that is also on Nodjoumi’s mind, but rather than confronting it with figurative work, Hemami’s approach works with empathy, regret and a conceptual basis. In this week’s show, we also hear extracts of a talk given by Hemami on an ongoing history group project with Iranians in California.
The show will air Monday 16th at 13.30 GMT and repeat the following Sunday at 20.30. If you are abroad catch it live on www.resonancefm.com/listen