A painter of desire: Hessam Abrishami exhibits at Monarch Gallery
by Will Bowen
Sep 16, 2010 | 1952 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hessam Abrishami’s youthful, slender figures — in couples or in pairs of couples — are usually portrayed lounging on a sofa or chair, sometimes scantily-clad, often with a guitar and half-filled wine glasses or doves present. 	Photo by Will Bowen
Hessam Abrishami’s youthful, slender figures — in couples or in pairs of couples — are usually portrayed lounging on a sofa or chair, sometimes scantily-clad, often with a guitar and half-filled wine glasses or doves present. Photo by Will Bowen
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Iranian-born painter Hessam Abrishami, who is currently on view at the Monarch Gallery at 1205 Prospect St., might be described as a painter of what is known in the art world as “desire.”

Abrishami’s brightly colorful tapestry — or Persian rug-like impressionistic paintings of non-distinct couples in idyllic idealized embrace and interaction — induce desire, longing, remembrance, wishfulness and nostalgia for lost youth or the simple, sweet, tender, carefree and intoxicating romantic 20-ish involvement between the sexes that most of us once knew.

Abrishami’s youthful, slender figures, in couples or in pairs of couples, are usually portrayed lounging on a sofa or chair, sometimes scantily-clad, often with a guitar and half-filled wine glasses or doves present. Their bodies are held in S-shaped curvaceous stances, head often leaning to the side as in the dances of the Sufi whirling dervishes, their faces blank, save a squiggly, sideways M-shaped line, ripe for your projection of self.

While a quick passing glance may not reveal their subtle power, the more you look, the longer you look, the more you want — to be there or return there or to possess the image and its magic to invoke your memory.

Abrishami’s works are powerful. They are very seductive, emotional, romantic and poetic. And while they could be considered escapist and perhaps the opposite of socially-engaged art, they do conjure the distant landscape of fond memory and are hence extremely desirable.

Leland Williams, the CEO of Monarch, said he has already sold 16 of the paintings in the opening weekend and has had to restock.

Abrishami said that to start a work, which is not planned or strategized, but totally intuitive and of the moment, he needs the right emotional mood or tone to come over him. He then begins sketching an outline with brisk, sweeping, musical strokes with a piece of charcoal. He then fills in the bright colors.

“I deal with my colors savagely,” he said. “I put them on the canvas and fill it rapidly. When I paint, I want to be blind to the physical object and see the world without any preconceived notions of the way things should look. I have to move fast to avoid wrestling with my consciousness.”

W. Joseph Metcalf, the author of “Expressions of Love: The Art of Hessam Abrishami,” said, “Hessam’s process is intuitive by nature. He approaches the canvas with no direct idea of composition, palette or artistic fundamentals. He comes from a place in his heart, a place of emotion wherein a feeling is expressed. He stays within the emotion he desires to share, holding that feeling in his heart.”

The basis of this recovered emotion seems to be in the sounding of memory.

“I can see my childhood and the growth of my adolescent years throughout my paintings,” Abrishami said. “I notice that my paintings have become a part of me. They have become my love, my life and most importantly, my inspiration.”

As for his major influences, Abrishami said, “Paul Gauguin, Franz Marc and Henri Matisse expanded the borders of possibilities for me. Looking at them I realized that nothing is fixed or certain. Henri Matisse — through the purity of his color —was essential for my expression.”

Abrishami was born in Shiraz, Iran in 1951. He began to study drawing and painting at the age of 16 upon the recommendation of a teacher who noticed his talent. By the time he was 19, he had won first place in Iran’s National Painting Competition. After earning a bachelor of arts degree in architecture in Iran, Abrishami went to Italy where he received a MFA at the Accademia di Bella Arti Pietro Vanucci. In 1984, after realizing that the art center of the world was in the U.S., he came to this country. His first art show was at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1985. Since then he has become well-known and respected throughout the country.

Williams, who has been in the art business in La Jolla for the past 26 years, said Abrishami is a very generous individual who has been a great friend to the gallery for the past 10 years.

For further information see www.monarchfineart.com or call (858) 454-1231.
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liliabillia
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January 11, 2011
This display looks like it'd be a great contrast to the amazing show I just saw.