Forty: “A Treatise on Terrene Traverse”

Apr. 24, 2018

Mohsen Gallery is pleased to announce the solo exhibition by Iranian landscape photographer, Mehrdad Afsari .the artist exhibits his new series, Forty: “A Treatise on Terrene Traverse,” representing natural scenes in which the viewer is left alone on the border between the spectacular and the absence of subject-matter. The exhibition runs from Friday May 11 through Friday June 1, 2018.

A continuation of his earlier works, these photographs are taken during the past two years. Passing the age of 40 (as indicated by the title), the artist finds in himself a kind of liberation and peace with nature, which he also suggests to his audience. This has been made possible through playing down the visual and the use of extended and dispersed compositions, similar to Middle and Far Eastern paintings of 20th century, leaving out human subjects as well as their impact on terrestrial landscapes.

Through photographs that combine his personal approach to photography and Illuminationist (or Ishraqi) philosophy, based on the thoughts of Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi (twelfth century Persian mystic and philosopher) on “light of lights,” or the source of illumination, Afsari seeks to bring into view that which is unreachable, no matter how close or far the viewer is situated. That is because the more the audience try to find a central guiding element in a work, the less it is probable that they find one. In fact, by abandoning conventional compositional rules of two-dimensional images, he expands his frames to the extent in which his landscapes demand nothing less than the viewers’ fluidity and submersion: in order to find themselves and/or the source of all the mysteries of existence. This could also be seen in his previous series “Years Long Gone” (2016), and in a different way in “After Grandmother” (2007). Here, however, Afsari relies more on details, avoiding the usual exaggerations of editing, trying his best to realistically represent what can be perceived through the eye.

In order to capture his landscapes, Afsari travels across Iran, spending hours and even days staring into vistas usually overlooked by the viewer who is looking for scenic beauty; because these are not symbolic (or iconic) images that should stimulate the mind before they are captured by the camera’s image sensor, especially in the large-scale photographs of this exhibition that are presented with so many details. The result of these conceptual considerations and technical executions is an emphasis on landscape as well as the man looking towards nature and in fact facing the concept of the beautiful. Thus, instead of merely looking at mountains, woods, the sea, or the desert, one has to pay careful attention to the implicit references of an image, which is one of the most important characteristics of contemporary photography. The beautiful nature is used as a means to refer to the nature of existence, time, light, and the sublime, even in the time that contemporary man has long been out of touch with it, due to regional and environmental crises. To capture that kind of nature, Afsari lets himself and his audience loose all over his works, so that instead of observing and showing the spectacular signs inside the frames, the concepts of the sublime and the beautiful are explored, studied, and also examined.