Ramin Haerizadeh's latest work tenaciously brings new life to familiar forms. With tremendous humour and a deft hand he has composed a new paradigm for artistic introspection with his elusively beautiful macro-scale self-portraits.
In each of the three series presented - Theater Group, Men of Allah and Today's Woman, clear elements of his cultural heritage emerge as the elegant basis for his strong graphic sensibility. He playfully appropriates the traditional Persian ornamentation, patterns and compositions found in his country's architecture, carpets, mirror works and miniature paintings. The static image rarely achieves the amount of visual energy that Haerizadeh imbues his digital canvases with, balancing an implied animation and textural warmth with the cold precision of his technical capacity.
Yet Haerizadeh does not dwell on his chosen material nor is he searching for a means to reintroduce the time-tested visual themes of a great civilization. His is rather a process distinctly removed from chronology and convention, a process that began with a collection of images called Theatre Group.
For this series, Ramin found inspiration in 'Taaziye' theatre, the religious plays popular during the Qajar period (and still active today during Ashura celebrations), whose particularity was that women's roles were played by men, who are still considered the only sex suitable for the profession. One of the most popular scenes was the wedding of the prophet Mohammad, in which the character wearing the white bridal gown is, notably, a bearded man. Taking off on this farce, Ramin has placed his own portrait (himself a thickly bearded man) within the guise of a chador-clad female.
Combining his signature style of photo manipulation and his penchant for performance, the Men of Allah collection reaches to the foundations of his talent. A bizarre pastiche of images of Haerizadeh's own face and body, Men of Allah blurs our conception of gender and form. Morphed faces are set atop bloated bellies and bearded faces scarcely concealed by brilliant swaths of patterned fabric.
Stemming from the artist's desire to express the full range of his experiences, Haerizadeh's arresting mixed-media collages in his latest collection 'Today's Woman' are no less provocative. Leaving no stone unturned in the pantheon of modern Iranian society, his free-form arrangements play upon the subjects and covers of pre-revolutionary woman's magazines. Employing his own images and drawings, he organizes symbolic details that provide clues to an underlying content. As a new body of work in a new medium for the artist, it is reassuringly faithful to Haerizadeh's humorous but sharp criticism of the political and social situation in Iran today.
This upcoming exhibition eloquently captures Haerizadeh's untamed creative force, one that has intensified markedly in recent years. To enter into Ramin Haerizadeh's world is to risk dissection but, like seeing a strange shrouded beauty, it offers one a glimpse of a unique mind at work.
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