I’ve been experimenting with material and visual approaches since early July, starting first in a shared studio with long-time friend and colleague Haleh Niazmand in Oakland, and continuing in Los Angeles, California where I’m occupying my brother’s dining room, balcony and back yard as temporary studio spaces. Oakland set-up proved not to be very productive. While it was great to get feedback from Haleh, the studio was too far from the house and every time I stepped in there I got congestion and headaches. The floor was shared with a soap-making workshop and there were other artists using heavy chemicals. I left Oakland earlier than planned and came to Los Angeles. Working in “Arcos Drive Studio” (the name I’ve given to my brother’s peaceful, bright and quiet house in Woodland Hills) has been really good. I’m happy with the visual direction the work has taken, although I haven’t accomplished the work on the script as I had hoped.
Once I settled on the material – acrylic paint with flat brushes on heavy natural brown packing paper – I found the writing surprisingly easy and pleasant. I think the biggest part of the pleasure for me is the return to نستعلیق nasta’liq style which seems to come as naturally to me as نسخ naskh and ثلث sols do when I write with chalk and markers. And the bigger the brush, the more fluid the writing becomes. This is quite a surprise to me because it’s been years since I’ve written nasta’liq (even though it was the style I trained in).
I also really like the thickness and fleshiness of acrylic paint. I prefer that to ink in fact. I’ve been working on floor and tables, so on horizontal surfaces. I can’t wait to get back to my home studio in Toronto to start working on vertical surface and play with the thickness of the paint to get drips. The paint sits really well on the packing paper. The paper was an accidental discovery as I rummaged through my brother’s storage for material to practice brush-writing on. And I love the colour and the feel of it, its commonplace and disposable character, its gesturing to movement and travel, its thickenss and the way it rolls and unrolls. Fortuitous accident, indeed.
Here are some images of the results. These writings were performed to Ahmad Shamlou’s readings of poems of Molana, Hafiz, Khayam and, on one occasion, his reading of The Little Prince, and another time, his own translation of Federico Garcia Lorca’s poetry.