Azadeh Razaghdoost is an Iranian artist who uses poems to create paintings. She translates words and their evocation to guide her brushstrokes. Works from the series Sick Rose, Letters and Recipe for a Poem are being shown at Sophia Contemporary.
The delicate and subtle colour palette link one painting to the other, creating phrases which vibrate, one against the other. The lightly colored ensemble of paintings is punctuated by touches of red and other intense colours. Even though the colours are strong, the red transcends the blood to symbolize passion, energy and explosion. As in William Blake’s poem, the depicted rose hides its subversive darkness,it is being harmed by its own ardor and is visible on the canvases by drips of paint gliding to the bottom of the paintings.
The artist dissects poems and paintings, breaking down their content and how they are presented to the world. The content, a simple subject of adoration, like a rose, gets entangled with sentiments to create an unexpressed meaning. This ‘underlying layer’, not explicitly revealed by the author to its viewer, is crucial. The poet and the painter’s life experience, personality and style contribute in the same way to the realization of a book or a painting. Otherwise it’s just words and brushstrokes, a notebook and a canvas.
As I progress along the pieces, its counterpart, the inexplicable spleen has intruded the paintings by leaving traces. Both the smudges and the clean blue lines of the imaginary notebook form an ungraspable halo. Blurred flowers and horizontal lines share the surfaces of the failed attempts. Baudelaire’s spleen is mirrored in this muted conversation. Razaghdoost gracefully attempts to harmonize both passion and apathy into one piece of art. Is she just depicting a concept or has she experienced these feelings herself? Reminiscent of William Blake’s “crimson joy”, the paintings translate the duo, bad for each other, yet inseparable.
Apart from the tumult created by the battle between the writings and its dissolution, there is a swirl of emotions which can’t be anchored on the canvas. They float and wander on the surface, locked forever in another dimension.
Azadeh Razaghdoost at Sophia Contemporary Gallery (24 November 2016 – 10 February 2017)