Mohsen Gallery at Photo London 2018
May 17-20, 2018
For its inaugural participation in Photo London, Mohsen Gallery proposes an exhibition of three of Iranian leading photographers; Azadeh Akhlaghi, Mehrdad Afsari, and Gohar Dashti.
Working in a region increasingly in crisis, all three artists explore the three foundations of existence: history, humanism, and nature and the trio is based on their subjective observation. The artists belong to the same generation and they are eyewitnesses to their surroundings.
In her celebrated series “By an Eyewitness” the artist, Azadeh Akhlaghi attempts to reconstruct 17 tragic and controversial deaths of prominent Iranian figures in the contemporary era, from constitutional revolution (early 20th century) until now. They are staged based on documents and eyewitnesses she found through her researches. In fact, Akhlaghi depicts the question that if it is possible for a moment in present time to become so tumultuous and critical to break the linearity of time, bring the past to the present and thrust the dwellers of the present to the past. Is it possible that we, in the heat of the moment, manage to detach from the triviality of our everyday life and travel back through history? “This is perhaps imagining simultaneity of us and the dead we admire in an essentially different time, the time that is yet to come.”
Whilst Akhlaghi depicts the illustrative experience of the history, Mehrdad Afsari generates another experience of self in his latest series of works titled “40: A Treatise on Terrene Traverse.” The artist looks at nature as a metaphor for life; how it looks mystic and undiscoverable. Nevertheless, it ends to a certain horizon by which it raises awareness about life’s finitude and limitations. With his subtle vision and skill in analog photography, Afsari portrays romantic pictures, yet touching and mesmerizing. Throughout this series of works, he insists on keeping the horizon right in the middle of pictures. Therefore, he had to explore nature and examine several places to find the right place to stand and set the camera; his recording eye. Hereupon, he shares the way ahead but we would not know about the other half that artist passed through to reach this point. All that we see is balance, beauty, and mystery.
In another subjective approach to nature, in “Still Life” Gohar Dashti stages nature through traditional photographic processes of lens-less photography; photograms and cyanotypes. In “Still Life,” the artist has gathered pine needles, twigs, leaves, and seeds, popular subjects of cyanotype sun prints, and has distorted their forms by crushing and dismembering them, adding another element to the handmade process. Through the destruction of these flawless forms of nature, the artist reveals another layer of abstraction within. Although the works are produced by traditional photographic processes, as with her “Home” series, the prints themselves are digitally produced at a large scale. Dashti believes that when we are talking about destroying a country, we are necessarily referring to its inhabitants and man-made infrastructure. Nature will be here long after we are all gone. In Dashti’s “Home” series the world is an alien landscape in which we are at home, or a home in which we feel alienated.
All three artists have portrayed their collective experience of living in a country undergoing dramatic transformations. While Akhlaghi is a narrator of controversial deaths of prominent figures of her country’s contemporary history, Gohar Dashti eliminates figures in her latest series and shows abandoned places being replete with plants symbolically to address the issue that we quite understandably tend to focus on human cost when a country is gutted by war; yet it is noticeable that when massive population shifts occur, the physical landscape remains behind. On the other hand, Mehrdad Afsari shifts his approach from extroverted social to introverted individual perspective. After long struggles with social issues, he finds his salvation in the vastness of nature.