Shirin Golestaneh
Persian Landscapes at Rodl & Partner - catalogue 2017"Once in a Dream"
Persian Landscapes at Rodl & Partner
March 28th 2017

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SHA Wellness Clinic - catalogue 2011"Once in a Dream"
Oil Painting Exhibition at SHA WELLNESS CLINIC
April 15th to June 15th 2011

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By Ennio Pouchard - art critic

A boldly lyrical impulse has propelled Shirin Golestaneh along the path of her artistic development: an impulse that finds expression in the large canvasses. In these works the dominant theme is landscape, recounted in ways ranging from an enchanted series of poetic details (Egizia) to dreamlike unreality (Notturno Toscano, Il Posto dei Pensieri) and vibrant, scintillating allusion (Dusk I and II), sometimes going so far as to push at the boundaries of the non figurative (Astratto in Rosso, Respiro I and II). There is a formal elegance in all these paintings, works which might be said to bear the imprint of Matisse, but by way of the impossible mediation of Gino Rossi, an artist too foreign to Shrin's cultural formation (basically American, given the course of her advanced studies) for her to have known his pictures.

As I was saying, there is a formal elegance, which, nonetheless, in no way reduces the inner energy of Shirin's work, just as, in nature, the beauty of creation persists even under the most extreme conditions. In Il Posto dei Pensieri, for instance, we find a relentless rhythmic crescendo and counterpoint, in two opposing fields above and below the horizontal division. The rhythms scan like verse, in explosions of line and colour whose substance, while sincerely emotional, is still filtered through a rigorous mental process. Colour and light are born of impastos, glazes, and touches with the tip of the brush, as in the infinite succession of planes we see in Egizia. But also of the thumb-prints which come into play when the painter no longer finds her brush and palette adequate to embody her vision, as we see in the flashes and glints to be found in Dusk I and II.

All these paintings, whether they developed gradually or else in a series of necessary fits and starts interrupted by pauses, grew over a prolonged period (a week, a month, several months) of meditation, by way of precise gestures that exclude randomness and chance. ‘The time factor,’ says Shirin, ‘has always helped me by giving me a more objective vision of what I am about to do’. One of the present works in particular lets us perceive this in a special way: it is Rumi's Hand. (Rumi was a very great mystical poet of late-medieval Persia.) Composed of iconic fragments, symbols whose meaning remains open, the work has visibly been touched by signs and words transcribed from the modern Persian alphabet, harmonious to the eye and of sublime significance. A rough translation might run as follows: ‘Never has your scent left my nostrils;/ Your face always lives before my eyes. / I have longed for you for entire spans of my life./ Now my time has come to an end, and my desire for you is unchanged’.

In other works, not present in this show, the painter dissolves the time factor in the technological bath of her ‘giclées’, produced by passages of a scanner connected to a special digital printer whose micro-nozzles, guided by the computer, ‘spray’– as suggested by the French term – billions of infinitesimal droplets, remaking and softening the nuances of the painting which serves as a matrix. I speak here of these works because such a parenthetical mention is necessary in order to give a more complete idea of Shirin Golestaneh: one which reveals how she succeeds in combining, with no sense of conflict, devotion to an ancient craft and a gaze fixed on the future.

And there is so much more that one ought to add in order to draw an adequate profile of her, starting with her childhood and early adolescence in Iran, where her paternal grandmother used to read her poems drawn from the ‘divans’ (collections) of Hafiz, the Persian poet who sang of wine and beauty at the almost same time that Petrarch was composing his poems of love. For Shirin, such memories have the character of an imprinting, rising to the surface in the embroidery of certain enchanted, fable-like tones to be found in her works; tones and works of which she is the conscious maker and demiurge.

Now the artist lives in London. Her journey from the East to Hampstead has taken her twenty-five years, including a period spent in the United States (the land of her mother and, by birth, also her own); her art studies there; her Italian journey, which comprised a thorough programme of visits, contacts, and successfully completed academic studies-and a special attachment to florence, where she put down new roots and formed her family.

Shirin has reached the age of intellectual maturity, the age at which one makes the best choices. She already has to her credit a complex corpus of monotypes and collages, pastels and drawings, and oil paintings: a body of work in which, writing in 1991, I drew attention to the Klee-like ‘habitual reduction of natural forms to symbols, the inundation of the atmosphere with colour-light’ while I found something of Kandinsky in ‘certain red, blue, and yellow haloes drawn as propagations of vibrating waves which furrow the sky’...

Klee, Kandinsky, and now Matisse, Gino Rossi… Don’t get me wrong: the art of Shirin Golestaneh is in no way indebted to these masters, or to others. Her powerful artistic personality is an autonomous one, into which there inevitably flow the myriad visual and conceptual experiences that have come before. After all, there can be no doubt that when Dürer returned home to Germany from Italy, he carried with him the memory of Giovanni Bellini; that the Venetian Lotto was nourished by German art; that the Englishman Reynolds was enriched by Titian's handling of colour. But every such component was melded and fused in the harmonious individualism of Albrecht Dürer, Lorenzo Lotto, Sir Joshua Reynolds, yielding miraculously new and original fruit. This is the meaning of Shirin Golestaneh's way of living and experiencing art and time.

Ennio Pouchard – January 2005 – Translated from the Italian by David Tabbat

Ennio Pouchard is an Italian art critic; he currently writes his reports on the major art exhibitions from the UK, France, Netherlands and recently also Russia, for several Italian art magazines, including the Giornale dell'Arte and Arte In, and for daily papers, such as Il Gazzettino (Venice), Il Secolo XIX (Genoa), Giornale di Sicilia (Palermo), etc. He is also a curator of museum exhibitions covering one-man work and modern art movements or trends.