Express Ticket to that Place Between the Skies and the Seas

On a scorching hot day in Tehran, I sat down under the cool shade of a tree in the garden of Atbin gallery with renowned abstract painter Vahid Mohammadi to learn about the person behind the celestial otherworldly artworks of great beauty for which he is known.

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Vahid’s work is incredibly labor-intensive and involves layer upon layer of paint. It is textured and sits at once like a tapestry of gleaming colour threads whilst remaining as light as air looking almost like a levitation.

It creates another space, another dimension, inviting the viewer to slip into its world of harmony light and beauty.

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Tell me about yourself

I am 32 and finished high school with a diploma in math. I then studied drawing at the university of Tehran. I began exhibiting my artwork around 2004 with annual exhibitiona at Atbin gallery thereafter.

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Why do you paint?

I didn’t start out thinking “I will be a painter” the process was more organic and involved a self exploration. I thought of studying architecture, getting involved in animation or into applied arts. However, I felt that working in a corporate, team-driven environment will not be the right thing for me.

Drawing and painting is much more solitary but therefore more personal. My version of art “work” is far from the severities of commerce and worlds dictated by the bottom line. Perhaps art is my sanctuary and a safe place where I can be immune from what happens outside. A place where I can be who I am and want to be. Although ultimately I understand that absolute immunity and security does not exist anywhere.

In any event after a while, I realised that even if I wanted to do something else, I simply wouldn’t have the ability.

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Tell us a about your artwork.

I have never been a pure abstract painter. Having done 7 or 8 abstract pieces, I often paint urban landscapes, dabble in some figuration and then re-visit abstraction again. This has been my process but in the past 3 to 4 years, I feel that abstraction has been the place I find myself in the most.

I paint mostly in oil, with tools and appliances I have made myself. For example pallet knives with indentations or holes. I also use a lot of resin and glaze.

We have heard you don’t live in Tehran, choosing more far-flung places. As a young artist, your choice appears unusual. Tell us about your reasons.

Correct, I used to live by the Caspian Sea and have been living in the town of Ghazvin for some time. True, it is perhaps an unusual choice but my geographical locations have been dictated by simple reasons: romance and circumstance. I blame the the poet Hafiz and his great romantic poems.

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What are your views on the art scene in Iran today?

I feel we are sitting on the edge of something about to happen. On the one hand I am very excited by the future and on the other I am afraid. I think the art scene is experiencing what happened to the Iranian economy in the days of Rafsanjani back in the 90s. His economic development programs were great but because the needed foundations were missing, the programs did not go to plan.

The same can be said for the art scene. The needed support and foundations are somewhat weak but the intentions are there, the talent, energy and enthusiasm are definitely there. Whether this will develop into the thriving art scene it could be, will have to be seen.

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What was the last book you read?

Diary of a Madman by Gogol.

What have you been doing in your free time these days?

Listening to lots of music. I really enjoy classical European music – especially the Romantics. The piece I enjoyed most recently was Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 29. Beautiful. I find myself listening to more and more music. These days, I gravitate to music even more than literature, even though in my free time I also read a lot of novels.

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Vahid is represented by Atbin Gallery – Tehran Iran.

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