Mahmood Sabzi


These are images of conflations and juxtapositions. Sabzi’s paintings signify the crossroad of cultures and evoke one of the most pertinent signs of the multiculturalism that has been the hallmark of the arts in late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His art represents that humanized perspective whereinmemory persists across cultural zones, even when and where it has no relevance. So many of his works speak of conditions where values and perspectives seep through the chinks of any culture’s shield of protection. They are about the kind of interconnectedness that can no longer be undone; they are about the end of purity and the end of searching for origins and essence.
In Sabzi’s paintings spaces of one world are filled with images from another. Forms circulate with irresistible energies eventhough they have raised from diverse psychological grounds. His Marilyn is such an example wherein the American icon, the inimitable Warhol image, is now redefined through nineteenth century Iranian images and vice versa. It is a stream of consciousness where two alien spheres of consciousness have coalesced and within which unfamiliar thoughts and forms are allowed to cohabit. The nineteenth century late Qajar images of “Wait until Tomorrow,” superimposed over a Google satellite photo of modern Tehran, likewise tells us of the perseverance of the past in an age of technology. It tells us of memory’s persistence to live on into our many days yet to come. It also gives rise to a new consciousness regarding our identities, as they are formed by the many streams of doubtful value and doubtful relevance. His FedEx, for example, bespeaks of how individuals, like commodity, are transported across cultural zones. It points out the abstract and the non-antic nature of individual identity in our globalized world. I should also say a few words about his “Encyclopedia of Natural Knowledge” where images of bugs, mirrors and a razor blade are juxtaposed. The work benefits from a plentitude that intensifies the contrasts and tensions of his imagery. It has a creatural realism that is wholly threatened by devices, by man’s insistence on dragging everything into its own sphere of activity and beliefs. Here, almost all concepts arrived at are as easily deconstructed.

Abbas Daneshvari, PhD
Professor of Art History
Chair, Department of Art
California State University, Los Angeles