Ornate lettering and artistically arranged geometric patterns have defined the visual culture of the Middle East for centuries. Depicting sentient beings has been traditionally condemned in the Islamic world, inspiring artists to find alternative forms of aesthetic expression. In modern Western painting, by comparison, there has been a move from objectivity towards abstraction.
Iranian-born, Vancouver-based artist Salar Ahmadian has embraced both movements, and his paintings transform written characters into abstract, expressive patterns and compositions. The gaudy colours are reminiscent of the Pop Art style. In addition to Ahmadian’s Western influences, he is inspired by the Persian art of calligraphy. In Iran, the art of writing goes back over a thousand years. Overlapping, interlinking, and in no clear order, the writing in Ahmadian’s pictures becomes the subject, transcending its traditional function as a means of communication, becoming almost formalistic in the philosophical sense. Individual letters are no longer easy to recognize, and our perception focuses instead on the three-dimensional construction of colours and shapes.
Ahmadian successfully combines tradition and modernity, West and East. The synthesis of these diverse influences produces an aesthetic very much in tune with today’s globalized world.
Born in Iran in 1957, artist Salar Ahmadian combines Persian calligraphy with Western abstraction. Ahmadian studied painting in Tehran, and has lived and worked in Canada for over 30 years. His art has been shown in numerous international exhibits, featured in galleries including the Orlando Museum of Art and the Chelsea Gallery in London, and auctioned at Christie’s.