Namâz

In The Name of God, head down, hands up, hands to knees, head down, hands to floor. forehead to floor, several breaths here, head up, hands to knees, hands up.

Visually, the Namâz is a spatially organized and choreographed ceremony. Those praying are positioned in rows forming a grid. Each individual’s space is defined by their rectangular mat. Human forms lose their distinction. Yet the spaces in between those praying become pronounced. There is an organic aesthetic that emerges from these spaces between humans. There is also a synthetic visual – the fabrics and colors of people’s clothes. There is a juxtaposition.

Untitled, Oil on canvas, 124×180 cm, 2019

Portrait of Khomeini, Oil on canvas, 98×80 cm, 2019

This year, the 38th Anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution fell on a Friday, a national Namâz, so to speak. I was not expecting to join in the Friday prayer sermons but I had stepped out right in the middle of the precessions. People began laying their prayer mats to the ground. I figured I would impersonate my way through the ritual but I didn’t get away with that as I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was a mullah removing his own cloak. He shook it and lay it on the ground, inviting me to stand on it. I stood on the man’s robe and followed the flow. I was within the grid. Head down, hands up.

Trusting my aesthetic to follow its own path, I respond in my studio. My intentions are to draw, to use color, and to paint my Namâz experience. This process culminates into a reduced form – bars.

  • Exhibition: Etemad Gallery, Tehran, Iran (2019)
  • Concept & Artistic Direction: Amir. H Akhavan
  • Research: Amir. H Akhavan