Raising funds in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. A solo exhibition. Persian artist Banafsheh Bahrami. 1st Oct – 5th Oct 11-7:30pm. The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery. 5b Royal Opera Arcade, SW1Y 4UY London
Originally from Iran, Banafsheh Bahrami brings the freshness and vibrancy of traditional Persian culture to the world of modern Western art. It is the Persian vision melting into the forms of abstraction which are not European in source but originate mainly from New York. Her journey can be seen in a progressive sequence, she has explored form, shape, texture and technique.
This fusion of cultures is not the complete story because Banafsheh has done another astonishing turn-about and brought a new element of the East into her work. Having reached a high level of ‘naturalistic’ competence – essential to any truthful creativity – she has ventured into an exciting technique of inventiveness which is drawn from her studies into the practices and principles of the philosophy of Buddhism.
Under this teaching she worked on a system of removing her own identity from the work in hand – she does the work but is not imposing her conscious preferences upon it; instead it flows and materialises from an intuitive source, which cannot be wrong as it is not influenced by anything – not her personality, nor her sense of taste, and not even on her own wishes.
Banafsheh described her process, “I began my journey through this process by reaching out towards the concept of ‘Desert.’ This concept has been a recurring symbol which I have approached so many times in my life and worked at in a wide variety of interpretations. I was searching for a new and truthful method to reach this concept, one that would fully convey my feelings. This was my main concern, and I began to use a new way of working. I call this system Painting Meditation. Through my process of Painting Meditation in which visual access has been excluded, I was aiming to locate and articulate those pure and undiluted feelings and make them tangible in a form which would be beyond the limitations of conventional systems and structures.”
Something like this came out from the schools of New York in the fifties and sixties, which then fragmented into various ’isms’. So much of it was brilliant; so much of it is forgettable. Banafsheh was not comfortable with the element of potential haphazardness in these techniques and the inherent, tortuous difficulties of recognizing truthful images from a fanciful, if appealing, visual presentation. Banafsheh said, “It has been a series of steps which have liberated and transformed my creativity. It has given me a sense of joy and freedom that is not limited even to my mind; I feel it also in my body; it floods me with a sense of ‘rightness’ which resonates through my being.’’Her method in recent paintings is to withdraw from her surroundings, her thoughts, her own identity, and deeply meditate on a pure flow of creativity. A flow that will not be diverted or consciously utilized by thoughts and ego, but is free to flood the canvas with the sheer liberation of the creative essence.
Banafsheh concluded, “The Painting Meditation process has been an innovation – a revelation – to me. ”