Artist Statement

 

I grew up amid the Iran-Iraq war which affected my life in different ways; this 8-year long battle is regarded as “The Holy Defence” in the current discourse of the Republic of Iran, yet its impact on my father’s mental and physical health and the loss of my 15-year-old cousin gave me sufficient reason to not only hate but also oppose wars.

A major impetus behind my recent artworks is what my recent experience of living overseas (i.e., Australia) has exposed me to. These are diverse views about issues such as the recent wars and conflicts in the Middle East and the contradictory, anti-humanitarian policies that certain countries have adopted toward innocent people, forcibly displacing them from their homes. Many of these policies have Xenophobia built into their fabric, especially those advocated by politicians who belong to radical right and nationalist parties. Xenophobia is used as an apparatus to influence and control public opinion and is an obvious reason behind the recent surge in the number of attacks against minority groups and immigrant communities. My recent artworks are in fact the response of an alien to xenophobia and the resultant public indifference that does not acknowledge the “alien”.

From the very early stages of crafting the collection, a major challenge for me was to portray the difficulties faced by war refugees while I myself had not experienced anything even almost similar. On the other hand, Middle Eastern people, like Iranians, Syrians, and Iraqis have a lot in common in terms of their culture, religion and lifestyle. Thus, I think the response of an Iranian artist to what is happening in the region is different from those of western artists.

I have embarked on a journey of discovering and utilising visual elements from Persian art and culture to give voice to my own concerns and position as an Iranian artist. The narrative, symbolism, and repetition are the main characteristics of Persian traditional arts, which I am using as methods of illustration in the creation of my recent artworks. This is a substantial difference between my recent and previous series of artworks, especially the ‘Bokosh Bokosh’ series -- a combination of mainly digital and hand-drawn illustrations together with installation works.

In selecting rugs and fabrics that I use in my artworks, the weaving quality and the precision of design and pattern are not my major concerns. Moving beyond these, I am looking for features which express and underpin concepts such as antiquity, resistance, simplicity, and peace which sit in stark contrast to the terrorising and militant image of Middle Eastern people portrayed by the mainstream media.

 

Mohsen Meysami