Reza Derakshani: The Breeze at Dawn at the Sophia Contemporary Gallery
The Breeze at Dawn is an interesting subject for the newly opened Sophia Contemporary Gallery, which has been founded by Russian gallerists Vassili Tsarenkov and Lali Marganiya with the intention of giving a platform for contemporary Middle Eastern art alongside its Western counterparts, in collaboration with the Iranian-German specialist Lili Jassemi. Reza Derakshani does indeed originally hail from, in Iran, one of the most focused-upon Eastern countries of the moment, and he has received attention at exhibitions and galleries across the globe, so his selection as a representative figure is a credible one but also highlights to an extent the folly of trying to identify an artist’s work by stamping them on the forehead with their nationality. This is worth mentioning because the gracious and modest Derakshani would hardly have the brashness to promote himself as a definitively Iranian artist – rather he describes himself as more of a nomadic figure in the art-world and currently is based in Dubai and Austin, Texas.
Derakshani’s work is undeniably impressive and feels like an honest approximation of his dualistic cultural identity, with traditional images of the Iranian agricultural landscape of Sangsar that he grew up in submerged into the heady abstraction of the neo-expressionist style, with which the artist is associated with through his friendships within the 1980s New York art world. The paintings on display here include ongoing series such as Hunting, Pomegranate and Garden Party, alongside newer pieces from his Blue and Calligraphy works, which manage to conjoin vibrant colour schemes with gentle depictions of horse-riding and scenes of undisturbed plant life. These are seemingly the result of a mature and strongly developed mind letting go and receding into the warmth of childhood reminiscence.
This sampling of Derakshani’s work isn’t for those looking for a strong political or sociological message embedded within; it’s about the aesthetic style and technique first and foremost. Derkshani would be the first to admit his work is almost all improvised, which means if these abstractions have hidden depths, they are hard to grasp. And yet there’s an accessible beauty to the work in The Breeze at Dawn that is there to be appreciated beyond all the baggage of an exhibition portentously trying to gauge cultural interaction between the West and the East.
Reza Derakshani: The Breeze at Dawn is on at the Sophia Gallery from 9th March until 23rd April 2016, for further information visit here.