Rosenfeld Porcini, London presents Revealing Harmonies by emerging Iranian artist Mehran Elminia. This is the first solo UK exhibition of Elminia’s work, and includes oil and mixed media works on canvas displayed over two floors.
Elminia works on canvases attached to walls but his improvisation contains none of the fluid violence found in works by other automatic artists such as Jackson Pollock. Working no more than 1 metre from the large canvas throughout, he eschews any idea of figuration; figures do appear, but the artist is oblivious until he steps back to look at his finished work. His purely emotional response to his art and the total oneness he achieves between body, brush and canvas has the capacity to create works of great emotional intensity.
Elminia comments: “When I am in front of the canvas, I liberate myself from all feelings of existence. I no longer exist, because that only creates a limit. I try and allow chaos and the actual moment to meet and I become a brush in the hands of chaos.”
The artistic search for Elminia is to find the poetic essence within the spontaneous act of painting. The American critic Clement Greenberg famously wrote in the 50s about the need for painting to be in and of itself, thereby avoiding all need for narration. Paint no longer needed to recount anything but instead acquire a new poetry in as much as it was about the act itself.
Music functions with both sound and time and the listener, not contending with either a literal or descriptive line, can react with complete emotional freedom. Kandinsky in a far earlier epoch than Greenberg, believed that if painting was concerned with narrative it would never be able to rival music.
There is a strong connection between Greenberg’s “art should be of and for itself” and the German idea of Gesamtkunstwerk and Kandinsky believed art should have this totality of approach but it could only be attained once the shackles of narrative were left behind.
Elminia’s paintings are produced by improvisation in the same way that a jazz musician like Keith Jarrett plays his solo concerts, working in a state of total freedom, literally sitting at the piano and playing. Elminia’s works can be the product of almost 24 hours continual painting so that his brush becomes a complete extension of his inner soul. His declared aim is to arrive at a state of ecstasy where all knowledge of the past is absent and he can achieve a total symbiosis with the moment. The visual complexity, richness of brush strokes and vibrant colours draw us in gradually so that it is possible for the viewer to attain an almost trance like state as we, little by little, enter the artist’s visual universe. The endless brush strokes create a further effect of staring into a spider’s web, or a vortex and losing oneself in a new and rarefied world of suggesting abstraction.