Monday, March 26, 2012

A Search for the 'Eternal' in Rafa Nasiri's Prints

I am saddened to hear of the passing last December 2013 of Mr. Nasiri. An article in covered the story here.
Here it comes again, the intangible is made visible. How can an artist strive to visualize that which we cannot see? Rafa Nasiri's work is bears out that question eloquently and assuredly with his work. He manages through the combination of his Middle-Eastern-influenced heritage with his interests in Far East written script and religion, and Western Abstraction to find a bridge to somewhere- a bridge to the visual unknown, a place where artists like Rothko and Frankenthaler, and the great masters of Chinese and Arabic calligraphy, moved about; pondered the mysteries of our existentialism and brought about their messages to enlighten our own paths.

Nasiri's journey began in Baghdad and evolved as his exposure to Eastern influences, namely Chinese art and script and culture developed alongside his knowledge of Arabic script. The search for his own personal truth could have careened when he went to study in Lisbon and Salzburg, but what came from those jumbled up experiences, and years of study was a clear path; an opening between the divergent cultures where Nasiri claimed his own work, and as we see above, the result is a seamless work utilizing elements from Abstract Expressionism with calligraphy, and universal symbols suggesting harmony and unity.
The elegance of his line, which sees written calligraphy as the life force it represents, collaged with  hard-edged pages/forms, demonstrates Nasiri's mastery of composition. One feels drawn into his images as one does when viewing an Al Held painting, only without all the bright hard-edge sinews. There are references to the great cosmos and the infinite, but Nasiri's work emanates a warm, earthy life force, and it feels internal, and a part of us. As for the script, I cannot read what it says, and I'll be truthful, I do not care. The beauty Nasiri's lines contain is enough for me to know it is a deeply personal search he's been on for the breadth of his career, and I respect and admire his honesty to pursue that path in light of much artwork produced today where the human connection to a subject or image is ever-eroding away, so much so that it's meaning, if it had any, is unknown, and is therefore mute.
Nasiri's work arrests us, and makes us understand the true Buddhist idea of 'being in the moment'. I see those 'moments' in viewing Nasiri's work,  and can breathe and be connected with the unknown. I invite you to do the same.

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