Hadi Tabatabai "Thread Painting # 12Wood"

New Iranian Art in Marfa, TX

“We hardly ever have a real experience.” So the post-gesturalist Hadi Tabatabai, an Iranian artist living in Berkeley, and a Pollock-Krasner award winner,  commented to Richard Whitaker in an interview. Tabatabai showed this spring at inde/jacobs gallery in Marfa. His work uses thread, or grout, or wax for “painting,” that at first and last glance call to mind the ineradicable influence of Agnes Martin. Evidently, as Tabatabai tells Whitaker, the two met near the end of her life.

“To have someone like her-or other people who have a good sense of seeing things-have respect for what I do, it feels that Im on the right track,” the artist remarked. . . “For me, expression is not important. I have moved further and further away from any kind of gestural mark making because I dont want to interfere with the viewers experience at all. I want it to be as empty as possible of my own feelings. And if there is any feeling transmitted I hope it is a basic human sense or feeling, rather than what I feel at the moment, happy or sad. I try to keep that out of it.”

Hadi Tabatabai "Wax Piece #2" 2008. Mixed Media

Hadi Tabatabai "Wax Piece #2" 2008. Mixed Media

It goes without saying that the absence of gesture does not also consign repetition to absence. On the contrary, repetition is a resilient minimalist strategy capable of evoking edgelessness, and a condition of blank mind. If we travel back in time indeed to where Martin was when she was still painting things that could be said to approach representation it is interesting to look at some of Tabatabais 10 year old works on paper in which color and an appearance of striving to differentiate grounds are still visible. And in that he is 45 years old, slightly past the age of typical “emerging” artists, see also how much this Iranian in exiles work feels so very different from the tenor of a show of some of his peer-in-age Iranian artists, still living in Iran,  reviewed by Ben Davis in Artnet, at the Chelsea Art Museum. An excerpt: An interesting example of the depth and contradictions of the Iranian art scene is Farhad Moshiri (b. 1963), probably the hottest artist in “Iran Inside Out.” Moshiri, in fact, studied at CalArts, though he has lived in Tehran since 1991. He is often compared to Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. Last year a painting by Moshiri featuring the word “LOVE” written in Farsi in Swarovski crystals on a black background sold for $1 million at Bonhams Dubai.

Arber & Sons

This Thursday, August 6,  at McNay Art Museum, San Antonio,  Robert Arber, Tamarind Master Printer and founder of Arber & Sons Editions (since 1976), discusses the 30 cm x 30 cm Project and his collaborations with Donald Judd, prior to Judds death, and artists-in-residence at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas,  since 2003.

Arber has completed – and the exhibit shows – seven print editions done in collaboration with Chinati resident artists. Each had to fit into a 30 x 30 centimeter portfolio box, per the master printers stipulation.  Highlights include: the Oaxaca-meets-Dan-Flavin influences evident in Emi Winters Seis Aves (Six Birds). The artist took Polaroid photographs of Dan Flavins fluorescent light installations at Chinati. Winter considers them references to birds of her native Oaxaca.  Intrigued by the glowing halos around the lights, Winter wanted to recreate the effect in print.  Arber used a labor-intensive inking process called a “rainbow roll,” applying different colors of ink to the printmaking matrix – a metal plate – all at once.  The colors blend and create the spectral halo effect Winter had admired in Flavin.

Arber has called the 2004 heartbeat drawing, in which Makata Sasaki measured her pulse over 12 hours, the most challenging print he has ever made. Other artists included in the show-series are John Beech, Daniel Gottin, Thomas Muller, and Lies Kraal.

Top Photo: Hadi Tabatabai “Thread Painting # 12Wood”, thread and acrylic paint on plywood Triptych – (3x) 14″ x 11.875″ x 1″
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