Mostafa Dashti, Untitled, 2007
Mostafa Dashti (b.1960) is a contemporary Iranian painter who lives and works in Tehran. He has had significant success in Iran as well as international recognition. He had his first solo exhibition in Tehran in 1988, and since then has shown steadily in Tehran and throughout Iran. Dashti's early work consists mostly of desert scenes, exploring the relationship between people and landscape, an interest that persists in his work. Throughout the 90s, Dashti's work became gradually more abstract, but retained a strong connection to the natural world. These paintings often contain clear visual referents, for example to a storm or volcano, but also sometimes tend more toward pure abstraction. One of the most prominent aspects of Dashti's work is a powerfully visceral effect. We feel Dashti's hand in these works and his intensity. Many of these pieces are made with the artist's hands, swirling and pushing these large globs of paint without the mediation of a brush. These are large canvases with very thick application of paint; they feel very present. Dashti also favors dark colors, which adds to the emotional impact of his work. The painting I chose to feature is one of the more abstract pieces. Although it does not depict anything specific, there is still some suggestion of the sand, or a storm cloud, or the sun. There is a sense of light and dark melting into each other, as the black and grey mix with the white and yellow. It may appear as though the dark colors are overtaking the light, dripping in front, but the white is actually the outermost layer and the vertical strip of yellow greatly affects the brightness of the painting. This is a piece where the elements are very much in balance with each other, and the complex relationship of light and dark is brought to the fore.
I don't normally feature two paintings, but I had a lot of difficulty choosing which work to use. So I've decided to include a second rather similar painting from the same year. Here the brightness is overpowering, and the sun seems to be sweeping across the canvas.