Mohsen Gallery is delighted to present solo exhibition by Mehrdad Afsari, centred on two bodies of work: The Hidden Law of Causality and Years Long Gone. For this exhibition, Afsari has approached the medium of photography in what he describes as ‘a visual apocalypse of thought,’ whereby his truths are captured in the photographic image, drawing inspiration from memory and its disappearances, further informed by wider Iranian personal and collective histories as depicted in these images of landscapes. Beyond the evident influences in his works, Afsari’s approach can be read as furthering the late art critic, John Berger’s rejection of traditional cultural aesthetics, in order to raise questions about hidden ideologies that exist in visual images.
Memory, both individual and collective, collide in these images by the artist and serve as a quest to decode the greatest challenge the photographic medium presents to the viewer, i.e. how it is positioned in relation to the reality it “mirrors” or merely “reflects” upon. It is at this boundary between mirroring and reflecting that Afsari’s works situate themselves in order to explore themes of aura, authenticity, and reproducibility in photography.
In his Years Long Gone series, Afsari captures faraway places that are beyond the visual and return the viewer to the contemplative and simple act of seeing. These works are studies in stillness, free from all the forces that drive them from the outside. They are substantive and self-sufficient.
The Hidden Law of Causality on the other hand, considers the ways in which we influence our environment and are portraits of sorts of our notions and attitudes. They are also traces of what human beings will leave behind.
In his essays “Little History of Photography” (1931) and “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” (1936), the cultural theorist Walter Benjamin described the difference between painting and photography with the term “aura,” where the former was through to demonstrate this whole heartedly, whilst the latter, photography, was viewed to lack this due to its reproducing of the actual image. The 1980s’ birth of postmodern thinking, however, led to a rejection of Benjamin’s hierarchical placement of painting with an assertion of photography’s role in not only problematizing art, but also representation itself. If the role of photography is to be understood as that which questions the ways in which the visual image is reproduced, then it also allows for new meanings as it presents direct observations through its adoption of a scientific standpoint for seeing the world.
Born in 1977 in Tehran, where he currently lives and works, Afsari graduated with BA Photography at Azad University in 2000, and MFA Photography program at the University of Tehran in 2006.
He has participated in solo exhibitions in Iran at galleries including Mohsen Gallery, Etemad Gallery, Khak Art Gallery, Assar Art Gallery, and Silk Road Gallery. Afsari has participated in international art fair exhibitions at Photo Fair Shanghai, Shanghai, China 2016; The Mine Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE; Art Ankara 2015, Ankara, Turkey; Contemporary Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey; Shirin Gallery, New York, USA; CCA Tbilisi, Tbilisi, Georgia; Queen’s Museum of Art, New York, USA; and MEDATAK Festival, Madrid, Spain.
Since 2004, Afsari has been holding the position of professor at the Tehran University of Art. He is an honorary member of the Iranian Visual Arts Society.