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Pearl Lam Galleries
Pearl Lam Fine Art
No. 181 Middle Jiangxi Road, G/F
Shanghai, China 200002   map * 
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The Living Road
by Pearl Lam Galleries
Location: Pearl Lam Galleries Shanghai
Artist(s): Golnaz FATHI
Date: 15 Sep - 10 Nov 2013

Pearl Lam Galleries Shanghai will present the first solo exhibition of Golnaz Fathi in China, illustrating the growing interest worldwide in Iranian art, initiated by major exhibitions at the Barbican Gallery, UK; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; LACMA, Los Angeles; and the forthcoming exhibition ‘Iran Modern’ at Asia Society in New York. Fathi is an influential member of a thriving new generation of multi-disciplinary artists born in Tehran since the 1970s. Entitled The Living Road, and opening to the public on 13 September 2013, the exhibition features 23 new works in a variety of media including pen on canvas, acrylic on canvas and LED light works, alongside two historic acrylic on canvas works which have been exhibited at Art Forum in Wiesbaden, Germany in 2011 and Tehran’s pavilion at the Shanghai Biennale in 2012 respectively.

Golnaz Fathi’s work draws on the discipline of Persian calligraphy reinterpreted through an abstract gestural style. Her work draws inspiration from Abstract Expressionism and the work of Middle Eastern Modernists from the 50s and 60s who employed the written word as a pictorial element. Fathi’s work has been collected extensively by major public and private collections including the British Museum, London; the Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi, India; The Farjam Collection, Dubai and the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore.

The Living Road features a series of pen on canvas works inspired by the technique of Shiah Mashgh, which translates literally as ‘black practice’, the calligrapher’s warm-up exercise, whereby letters are repeated over and over again until the paper is entirely covered in black ink. Golnaz Fathi sees this process as the most artistic  part of traditional calligraphy: “My artistic aim has been to transform calligraphy from words into forms, I treat the letters as a form, I make them float or dance on my canvas. Like a journey of sorts I take the words up and down, moving to different places that end nowhere. The origin comes from my meditations, perhaps sometimes it ends in stillness, a stillness that talks. They can be read as a visual meditation or a form of prayer. Being restricted by so many rules in traditional calligraphy made me break all the rules and treat the letters just the way I want to. This inspiration comes from my own culture. I am proud of my country’s very rich cultural heritage which in turn has greatly inspired me.” Amongst the other media represented in the exhibition, the light boxes particularly highlight the unique forms in Fathi’s work as the glow of the letters and lines emerge from the bold black boxes.

Born in Tehran in 1972 the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war were predominant elements in the background of Fathi’s upbringing. The disturbing effects of these events cannot be dismissed from her work, which asks for pause and contemplation. She studied classical calligraphy at the Iranian Society of Calligraphy in Tehran, practicing writing Persian for up to eight hours a day for six years and is one of very few female Iranian artists to have trained to such a high level. She has received a number of awards including the Best Woman Calligraphist in Ketabat Style in 1995 by the Iranian Society of Calligraphy in Tehran and was chosen as one of the juries at the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennale in 2011. She has also exhibited in museums and galleries in Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Dubai, Korea, Germany and London. In 2012 she was granted a residence permit in France and she currently lives and works between Tehran and Paris.

*image: © Golnaz Fathi and Pearl Lam Galleries 

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