The Art & Soul Gallery in Water Front Mall, in Qurm, currently has a unique solo exhibition of Iranian-Australian artist, Dr Nasser Palangi, on display. The exhibition, titled Oriental Memory, which is on from April 14 to 25, features his latest paintings depicting thought-provoking images of his varied experiences in the Middle East over the past few decades.
A comprehensive, fully-illustrated, art book titled Oriental Memory has been released on the occasion. The book includes artwork about life and traditions in Oman, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Sudan, and Egypt. Last evening, Dr. Palangi delivered an inspiring ‘Art Talk’ at the gallery reviewing his artworks and providing inspiring insights into contemporary art the way he views it. On april 22, he will be sharing the essence of his work and philosophy in an invite-only private workshop organised by the gallery.
Through Oriental Memory, Dr Palangi explores the theme of expressionism and figurative art inspired by his sojourns in different countries in the Middle East, including Oman. In his work, the popular artist and lecturer seeks inspiration from the living – the movement of life forces through brush strokes and colours – the transience of people, heritage and culture.
Dr Palangi’s artistic style is quite unique in its content as well as format. It transcends borders, bridging Persian poetic vision with western expressionism. He transcribes the essence of his being onto the canvas with bright flashes of colours and forms. In some of his works, he places himself at the centre, rather than the edge, of the canvas.
“Every family and country has its own heritage, history, objects, patterns and culture. I try to create the personal vision to tell the Middle East’s visual stories by using mixed media techniques to bring heritage and history to life.
These artworks have been created to offer audiences insights into the nature of memory and how it might be articulated via heritage, history, everyday life and family stories,” says Dr Palangi, adding, “I will continue with the process of travel and research looking for information related to the collections of forms and colours in the Middle East, applying patterns and concepts, selecting the forms and colours, to explain aspects related to heritage and everyday life in the Middle East.
Dr Palangi has been a distinguished and influential teacher of contemporary Iranian art for many years. He was the founder and director of the Private University of Visual Arts at the University of Art – Sureh and the Shahed Art College. He has also been the author of many educational books and videos including ‘The Method of Creative Imagination’ and ‘The Method of Artistic Anatomy’ which are sources of teaching in the art faculties in Iran. He currently works as an associate professor, teaching visual arts at the Scientific College of Design in Muscat.
In an exclusive interview with Muscat Daily, Dr Nasser Palangi reveals the essence of his flair as an artist. Excerpts:
What is the theme of the exhibition and what message does it convey to the viewer?
The subject of my exhibition is the people, traditions and lifestyles in the Middle East. I try to re-imagine how people relate to themselves and their culture and their customs using different colours, textures, and different techniques, with a visual poetic expression. I paint in different layers in my paintings.
This exhibition consists of a collection of works that will be exhibited for the first time in Oman, while the book consists of my previous and recent works. My effort is to show the rich culture and heritage of the Middle East.
In your career as an artist and lecturer – what has been the most fulfilling moment?
Over the last 20 years, I have painted more than 200 paintings. As an artist who has been in the Middle East for many years, and traveled the world, I have portrayed figures of wars, immigration, loneliness, happiness, traditions, heritage, separation, customs and more which express the feelings, emotions and mood of the people, especially in the Middle East, which has long involved all the people of the world.
I have tried to use a style of expressionism to express my feelings on this subject and to show the creation of stillness and movement using visual elements as well as human beings in the context of time and place, forms, colours, and textures which represent an unintended algebra of human conditions today.
As a teacher, with thirty years of experience teaching art in different countries, it was the most beautiful feeling to witness the flourishing of my students’ artistic talents. For an artist, the most glorious moment is when a work of art is created. In fact, an artist creates artworks and artwork create the artist, at the same time.”
What is your opinion about the evolution of art in the middle east and, in particular, Oman?
Today’s modern world needs spirituality. Perhaps the task of today’s artist is to achieve contemporary spirituality by discovering the magic of spirituality in ancient art, and reusing it in the modern world.
One of the aims of Middle Eastern artists is to pay attention to their own identity. Middle Eastern art has always been influential to the world in these works.
The art movement in the Middle East has been developing rapidly for more than two decades, and as a new phenomenon in world contemporary art, it has found a new place. Middle Eastern artists have presented their work in museums and galleries around the world.
How do you view Oman as a conducive environment for art and artists?
In my opinion, Oman needs to create spaces suitable for international standards in order to display the works of artists and art education at different levels of education, whether in schools and universities or in institutions of international standard.
Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?
As an artist, I pursue and my artistic aspirations, dreams, and goals, and sometimes I have achieved them. Between 1985 till 1999, I have coordinated three art museums and two private art colleges in Iran, besides publishing art educational books and videos. In 2001-2005, I had started the Memory Mural Painting Movement in Canberra, Australia, besides many other ventures.
In Oman, I have started the Method of Creative Imagination classes and Art projects with new art ideas and projects, events and exhibitions. This will be announced soon. I will continue to work towards this, so that audiences get acquainted with more artistic issues and artistic movements in Oman.
H H Afra Talal Tarik al Said, artist and art collector, who inaugurated the exhibition on April 15, in her speech on the occasion, noted that Dr Palangi follows simple principles that have unity, contrast, shape, emphasis, movement, repetition and rhythm, which gives an idea that ‘he loves sharing, and has a soul connection with life.’
“We’ve all heard someone say, ‘God works in mysterious ways…’ I consider myself lucky to have crossed paths with Dr Nasser Palangi. I’ve noticed some incredible detailed artwork at the stall that he had painted, and nobody can deny that his passion is on another level. His pencil, paint brush strokes and shadows bring life to his work, as if composing music in his mind, like a melody that takes you back in time and walks you through this journey of mystery, beauty, and form,” she observed.
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