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Tehran Emrouz Tehran April 24, 2011

A Modern Man through the Texture of Persian Aesthetics
from middle generation status

Ahmad Reza Dalvand

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Reza Doust summons up his favorite artworks from the depth of history to employ them as a base for expressing contemporary issues that occupy his mind. Through his journey to the past, he creates works that put our consciousness in relation to a whole new dimension. As such, he transcends the classical Persian art, enabling it to undertake a modern, expressive role – a role that is totally different from their traditional decorative nature. Reza Doust’s work is a revision of traditional Persian art, as it used to be defined by its logical structure, symmetrical dimensions and mostly predictable composition. Throughout the history, Persian art has been known for its decorative and ornamental qualities, its dazzling beauty and, to a large degree, its polished, symmetrical patterns. As such, Persian art reflects an abstract philosophy, totally divorced from the real life, making it incapable of expressing such realities as day-to-day human suffering, work experiences, exhaustion, social and political beliefs and so on. Accordingly, the traditional Persian artist uses color in a unique way. Color, in this school, is not used to show psychological excitement, emotional pressure or to express any kind of protest or rage. The traditional Persian artist keeps a tight control over his or her paintbrush, using color in a predetermined manner in order to create beauty, glitter and decoration. Reza Doust, however, strives to use the aesthetics of traditional Persian art as a tangible background and framework to express modern-day issues. He is well aware that traditional artworks are no longer able to express the views of the modern human being. Therefore, Reza Doust’s art is not a sick or nostalgic reproduction of such repetitive delineations. He does not get excited nor does he want to impress others – the traditional art we have inherited from our ancestors can still invoke excitement in us. Reza Doust is not preoccupied with visual impressions. He goes beyond such attractions to manifest a different, rather personal interpretation of the modern being, rooted in the time-honored aesthetics of the Persian art. Reza Doust revitalizes patterns that have been buried under the dust of centuries. The same patterns have be seen decorating old books, Persian rugs, walls of historical and religious buildings, to the extent that revisiting them would not invoke any reaction in us. To work them in a different context with a new meaning, however, will shake our habits, create a new sensitivity and perception in us, and as a result, it will open up new scenes to our vision. Watching the works of Reza Doust begs the question: is the recipient of an antique artwork allowed to use it as a motif for creating a new work to express a different view in a different time? In other words, is the contemporary artist entitled to decomposite the forming parts of past works in order to create contemporary art? Works of Reza Doust are created on such principles. From tradition, history, or modern human being, Reza employs whatever interests him. What is pivotal in Reza’s works is the way he employs motifs from traditional Persian art. To better understand Reza’s viewpoint, one should take notice that Persian painting tends to take the viewer to a dream-land. That is, in the idyllic world of the traditional Persian art, no harsh word is ever uttered, and no rage is ever expressed. Lovers, princes and chevaliers, however, march in front of our eyes, through a golden light and purple color. Reza Doust does not manifest his perception of Persian art through its elegant and salient aspects. He was born and raised in Isfahan, a city renowned for being the capital of the traditional Persian art. His mind, memory and hands are profoundly familiar with all the techniques and tricks of this magical art. Reza, on the contrary, is not interested in showing off his mastery in Persian painting. Instead of showing the tired, hapless, contemporary humans confined in cement cells or wandered in the streets of metropolises, Reza strives to show them in the context of a forgotten, but graceful culture. He belongs to a group of artists who intertwine the original Persian art with modern techniques of painting to create a deeply personal and modern art. The significance of his work comes from the fact that this hybrid style is not mechanical or aesthetically unfit. Some contemporary Iranian artists have been presenting a combination of abstract surfaces with hidden figures; something that Reza does not aim for. He, on the other hand, recalls the history to save it from the dust of time, and to provide the wandering contemporary man with sheltering arms. Modern art, as we know it today, has no history in Iranian art. Painting canvas, oil paint, easel, framing artworks and art gallery were introduced to Iranian society only a century ago. Reza Doust transcends the motifs of Persian art. He takes them out of the confined spaces of old, script books and recreates the on large painting canvases. He knows fully well that Persian art has a magnificent treasury of works, created masterfully with a succinct expression. The designs of Persian rugs and carpets, textiles, gypsum designs, bricks, engravings and paintings are unparalleled examples to study, revise and recreate. Reza Doust is a representative of artists who engage in a dialogue with history to expose the face of contemporary humans, using the experiences of their ancestors.