Statement for Arash Fesharaki’s Exhibition at Etemad Gallery

Group exhibition, 3-14 Feb. 2012, Etemad Gallery, Tehran

Abstract painting divided painting into two: those who understood painting (and still do) and those who did not (and still don’t). Those disinterested in abstract painting say with a mixture of disappointment and honesty: ‘Maybe there is something we don’t understand.’ Abstract painters reply smilingly: ‘Or maybe there is nothing to be understood.’
Abstract painting was a forerunner in modernist painting and became the target of harshest criticisms. Decades-long attempts at popularizing modern painting has made it possible to hear today from the man in the street: ‘At least it is pleasing to the eye. I love the colours.’ Yet, this is only true of ‘beautiful’ abstract paintings. Not all of them are beautiful. The ‘ordinary’ viewer enjoying most abstract patterns on his shirt or drapes expects much more for his gaze from a canvas. And he is right. Painting is always much more.
In fact, it is the term ‘abstract painting’ which is void, the paintings are fine. Painting has always been abstract (even Kant knew that). All obvious terms are void. How meaningful is it to consider poetry abstract or concrete? Or divide it into lyrical poems or those that describe a landscape, to those that create an atmosphere and those that are a monologue or political or controversial… Each poem has a function according to which it is judged. Each poem defines its own function. Or in better words: the reader ascribes a function to it on behalf of the poem, before judging it. And so does painting, the difference being that abstract painting leaves more room for the addressee. Abstract painting deprives itself of a larger vocabulary. It talks little and listens more.
So what is the function of Arash Fesharaki’s artworks? How should we ‘see’ them? What is there to be ‘understood’? Absolutely nothing: the mathematics of these intertwining cords, pieces of an interwoven continuity, trace of hundreds of car wheels on snow, microscopic cells illuminated from behind, how should one listen to music? She holds her hand in front of the window. Light passes through her fingers, what you draw on a window pane in a snowy day with your fingertips, those stain glasses in a dim cathedral, the wickerwork lid which we never figured out to which basket it belonged, illustrated dreams, photographed fantasy, the interwoven threads of thought, how should you read poetry? a mind never resting, impossible to switch off, we drew blood from our fingertips, how it spread under two slides, 600X magnification, this shuffling song. The bottle of milk placed each morning on the doorstep, the baker’s everyday trajectory in the city, the vibrations inside a microchip processing letters of my love letters, sperms, a door slightly open, light pouring out, father awake after midnight watching television, these green alga, millions walking in one street in the same direction, the woman twists the telephone cord around her fingers while talking and her messages are knotted, a piece of the washing machine which I never understood what to do with until we moved out. Is it abstract or is not?