Bizhan Bassiri has theorized Magmatic Thought since 1984. His intriguing sequence of poetic writings led to the Manifesto of Magmatic Thought (1986), which has been further enriched by each subsequent intuitive process experienced by the artist as he develops new work.
“Being for the first time on the crater, I felt the magmatic condition as if it were blood circulating through my veins and in my brain in its creative state. Since then, I have been the guest of that temple where phantoms take shape and stones resemble enormous animals.” (Bizhan Bassiri)
All of Bassiri’s work springs from this “illumination” while visiting the crater of Mt Vesuvius and from the conviction that artwork is a manifestation of cosmic energy.
“In Bassiri’s Pensiero Magmatico, art and the entire process of creating a work of art are the basis for the qualitative metamorphosis of matter, in the same way as a volcano and its catastrophic activity. Through the transformative action effected by the artist on his chosen materials – chosen for being vehicles for the intensity and frequency of his imagination – the work erupts into the light, a surprise to all. It can truly be claimed that the art of Bizhan Bassiri is chthonic and solar at the same time.” (Bruno Corà)
In 1990, balancing different artistic modes – theatre, poetry, music, performance, sculpture and drawing – Bassiri created the ‘Evento Manifesto del Pensiero Magmatico’, a series of poetic declarations that materialized in evocative scenes presented in numerous sites, among them:
2019 Centro Culturale Niavaran, Tehran. In collaboration with Dastan Gallery, Tehran (Iran);
2009 Teatro Argentina, Rome (Italy);
2003 Opera House, Sarajevo (Bosnia);
1997 Centre d’Art Contemporain, Thiers (France);
1995 Cinema Teatro Michetti, Pescara (Italy);
1991 Castello di Rivoli, Turin (Italy).
The cold comes knocking at the door of the wake I’d like to go in, but every attempt I make is shrouded in doubt, the doubts I gave up to describe those lasting fears since the pale pleasure of seeing red cheeks that pronounce short words on the long lines of an unfeeling river a passenger who doesn’t look up or down or look at all it’s the waves, perhaps, that delight in sliding over one another playing hide and seek either you dare to bend over the water to slake your thirst or the sweat on your back will be all the water your boiled body has the door I knocked on shudders and falls over my thoughts, rekindled of late, in the granite-like body of an inexplicable particle that pulsates in the sidereal depths and silently generates a light invisible to the naked eye and gives rise to life it accelerates and devours the dark measure the light has no equals it doesn’t breathe the air or burn in pain or get reduced to ashes the unexpected expansion doesn’t burn fiercely, no licking of impatient flames no memory of death or of life either the particle pierces through the granite-like, thinking body and feeds its head quickened by intuition it tends to the steady silence of the river flowing away into its underground lair the meteorite keeps watch fired up, the poet sings by night on the red-hot granite rock helpless creature nothing of events and suffers the steely knife-like thrusts of the wind that shimmers in the moonlight in the silence and bends time to treat it to the sight incredulous, nothingness splits its head open on the rock, to point the way to the road to ruin, while ruin, incredulous, disembowels itself to let life out, and a newborn life clambers up to swallow sprouts its coloring takes hold and then comes a virile roar it inseminates the underground springs that silently turn into a dark,unruffled lake happy to wander aimlessly through the flowering valleys, despite myself I yearn to sleep and dream of the depths of the lake that never saw dawn break on its still surface, while in the eyelid’s trembling, the ghastly impulse to slash time’s throat in an instant In the mass of squirming bodies the battle rages on, and bones ripped out of the flesh are rods to crack the hapless skulls of the dying The storm rages on and loses none of its strength Pale death finds no home, and nothing is left of it all, until the morning after the rainstorm On the morning after the rainstorm, the air smells pure and footsteps converge, descending the hill to the lakes fashioned by volcanic springs in the deepest clefts of the rocks while a man on a distant stage set lays the king bare The king is no king And the stage set amounts to nothing but a miserable naked man Taking words literally, without lightening the weight of the subject of his reflections, forces the author to live a complacent life amidst colorful chronicles Laying oneself bare isn’t just a matter of taking off one’s jacket One’s pants, shirt and underwear Laying oneself bare means weightlessness in an endless orbit, never slowing, never speeding up Amenable to one’s fate Stubborn, anxious Squirming in the womb Falling endlessly Until one’s head spins Hailing the words that have plummeted into a void that cannot be filled Over the hours Stubborn and anxious, they fall endlessly until their heads spin and they hail the words that have plummeted into a void that cannot be filled, amenable to fate They squirm in the womb until their heads spin Over the hours Spent squirming in the womb They hail the words that have plummeted into a void that cannot be filled Stubborn and anxious, until their heads spin Amenable to their fate, they fall endlessly Over the hours Their heads now spinning They squirm in the womb Amenable to their fate, hailing the words that have plummeted into a void that cannot be filled Endlessly they fall, stubborn and anxious Over the hours Endlessly they fall towards their fate until their heads spin, stubborn and anxious, they hail the words that have plummeted into a void that cannot be filled, and they squirm in the womb Over the hours Welcome words plummet into a void that cannot be filled until the world spins, falling endlessly, and they squirm in a womb that is stubborn and anxious and amenable to its fate Over the hours The exertion ceases when the temple is completed. In the temple stillness reigns over the foundations and over each column and arch sculpted out of brooding granite hacked out of the hardened lava rocks It is then, in the silence, that words find an order and thoughts flow Art demands intuition Art demands the sublime Art demands an unutterable density Art demands an infinite breadth Art demands extreme precision Art demands that time itself will do its bidding Art demands not to die and is granted its wish Art tends to darkness but houses the light that shatters and nourishes the stillness in the dawning bright the treasure boldly emerges from the depths death is tormented in the beast’s incandescent bowels orbits bend their skull towards the dice of fate emerging from the mercury in the exact overlap of events the meteorite strikes the forehead and the skull backs away until the jaw and cry are disemboweled the eyes removed from fate remain to watch over the horizon fate’s dwelling is the temple of endless reflections inviolable fate dwells in the coincidence of events and gathers within this exactness whose formation in flesh and bones appears to be a miracle since when suddenly nothing was like before it appeared to me as an unusual wake by which the earth dried up in an immense plain of ashes smoke gave way to the life of the fire the song in a choral mass burned inside the skull’s crater now I count the hours and the whisperings twisting in the remote and teeming passageways of life lost hopeless in a journey so long that messengers like the facts of light come from sidereal distances and bring with them the news of bodies dead for centuries a smile lights up in our eyes as if everything had happened yesterday today or an instant ago I can smell the flowers and immense distances invade and my heart beats I can feel the veins I mind my obstinate steps in the mud my knee hurts sweat evaporates from the body and in the skull the brain is aflame without a care for anything from the roots it burns the bones and from the petals of fire life springs forth untamed by the rivers and the rocks in turmoil the descent of the song of the waves thunders between the walls of the snow mountains and nothing was as before in the furrows traced by furious rivers that devour mountains over the centuries down to the remotest depths of the earth I long to shout words inclined to truth and be heard from these abysses words torn by my teeth from the living flesh of thought never yielding until the hour of sleep now you beloved think with relief that things can in the end reach their abode I wish it were so yet objects lose weight and in an infinite widening in the skull’s cavern the inanimate is fed and breathes as if it were alive it devours every thought that comes forth from joy and pain the 6 and 6 6 of life 6 of love and of fire 6 of water and rock under a shower of meteorites seated with my shoulders to the wall motionless as if I were stone I can feel my heart pounding in a petrified, still volume the events of the vital hours that foreshadow vision let the work commence seasonal plants embroider the ground thanks to the mild temperatures during the unplanned hours of life and evaporate in continuation on the rocky mountain paths like the bodies of black snakes cloaked in the shining light of the moon rays and revealing truths hidden inside deep wells the wayfarer bends down to gather medicinal herbs sprouting up after a long rainfallthoughts fly out and cross the stone walls during the hours before the vision time allows no more pauses thinking of the past no longer inhabits the fate cast by the dice embodying dense poison and light they are all marked by 6 on all 6 sided willed by fate and makes no concessions changing and falling like drops ending up in the depths of meanders and melting into the mercurial sea unrelentingly nourish the vital hours preceding the vision of magmatic thought the vital hours anticipating the vision play an infinite combination stretching to the inevitable and unknown point of the mind beyond any worldly reason author, custodian, blacksmith tirelessly strikes the red-hot iron until it is transformed into tempered steel no longer subject to a deterioration of body and life custodian ignited by desire as if a flower blooming in the fire sharpens and files the blade and vibrates without making any concessions the blade is silhouetted in the blacksmith’s hands without lingering as if it were the vein in the pulsating head of a man constantly at play in the vital hours preceding the vision the comforting slope of knowledge is of no help now to anyone playing during the vital hours preceding the vision the comforting slope of wealth and life and God are of no use to anyone playing during the vital hours preceding the vision nor are feelings nor reason nor the forces of gravity nor its absence of any use to you in the vital hours preceding the vision your head is the target of the meteorites coming from the unknown where their body is originally non-existent the target struck is the head in those very vital hours preceding the vision an event called intuition is so full of gravity and lightness that no scales are able to measure them author of the flashing instants of the event shapes the work in any place where lurking vanity cannot wait to elaborate the appropriate works clothes in those vital hours preceding the vision while passionately waiting for celestial formations, steps across the threshold I touch the hidden walls in the foundations supporting the weight of abodes silence grows bolder with each step I see the dense shadows that seem real in their reflections I see them disappear like air breathed by the earth the day after a rainfall a herm, custodian, guardian watching over the temple tirelessly strikes the irons and hones the blade in the red-hot furnace it pours the steel alloy and stays the same just as if time had never passed art appears out of something unforeseen it devours life and has always been rejuvenated, remaining sovereign sword staff snakes in the monks’ plate in the face of life and death and plays with fate with the dice and makes no concessions to luck or vanity in the game of fate the stilled mirror comes to life and spills out like an infinite source of light beams flashes I hear the damned noise I distract my mind and think of the faraway day in a cloister I turn back a last time on my way out and see a fish on one of the columns towards the lake the silence of the cloister is suddenly crystallized and I see the fish traverse it I am struck by the meteorite that fell in the desert of my head back then events do not give warning they appear in conditions of constant tension and in the endless boiling of the spirit of the material until it evaporates I hear the echoes of strikes in the racket of the world I hear boulders falling into the depths I hear the thunder tear the earth without wanting to, I stay there and watch I hear the strikes without rancor or memories in the terrible starry temples of my head I hear everything with exact clarity and know where I must go to wind my way towards the foundations at night picks me up and I see the sweating shadow as if there were real coming from the walls of Rome where the knowledgeable young boy ignoring care takes the dice of fate in hand 6 of 6 sides light appears without arduous hesitation and comes fearlessly entering the cracks of the deeply burned ground with the first rainfalls it sheds all the energies compressing it since birth and turns on its heel to merge into the ground in a divine devastation the key to understanding melds with the lock and finds the way to perdition the irresponsible artist, the further down he goes, the less information he will have form the surface wind carries vanities to fill the eyes elsewhere lending justice to the embroidered cloak that belonged to the governor who disappeared once his term had ended daring people pay no attention to the exactitude of becoming and the vision that feeds mortal life without losing heart nor importance man herm thought of man the book of affirmation of the thought the beating stick many things occur many people stay there to watch and others fear they will lose their sight in order to generate nothing is conceded to what happened and it necessary to be faithful to one’s own vision minor arts and weak thought are tales of professions and survival art does not sow art strikes and blinds and is melded onto history scandalous acts move feelings while sleeping spirits and brains fattened by boredom provoke apparent satisfaction but once the effect is over the opposite result takes place, an even greater lethargy the path is taken at various points in this sense all that is left to the authors of the scandal is to heighten the dose each time they face the public until they reach beyond those exact things that are real the real is the end of any creative process and the physical collapse to the point of committing a crime traveling beneath the skin of things touch the nerves crossing paths with death abysses voids joy and ecstasy have nothing to do with corpses dragged out of morgues crimes committed in great novels are light years away from a crime actually committed by a common delinquent crossing into reality is the end of any possible recollection and stirring of creative energies I am thinking of the beheadings in works of art and of the severed heads in wartime reporting and am thinking of the limbs that cross into reality all real things of life decay in time nothing remains of life the truths of art devour time and rejuvenate through a diabolic and contrary process in which humanity never crosses into reality it is only this unexplainable trace which is left the vision melts the heads of the herms in their journey thoughts take their time and remain undaunted as if nothing had happened yet things do happen the herms in the temple pay attention to the silence and change into a slow and constant body each time they come out to face the racket of the world here they are springing from the turbulent waters and they are whetted with life never experienced before and now the cold is knocking at the door of the vigil warmed by time I would like to approach but any attempt encloses the veils of that doubt abandoned in order to narrate fears left over from the pallid pleasure of seeing pink cheeks that scan the short words on long lines of the indifferent passing river which looks neither up nor down nor looks perhaps it is only the waves which take pleasure rolling one over the next in the attempt to hide or slaking your thirst you dare drink upside down or your back will sweat all the water of your boiling body the knocked-upon door will shake pouring onto my thoughts warmed over time.
Being for the first time on the crater, I felt the magmatic condition as if it were blood circulating through my veins and in my brain in its creative state. Since then, I have been the guest of that temple where phantoms take shape and stones resemble enormous animals.
1. Images precede awareness. 2. Do not bring any psychological pattern with you. 3. Time and history are absent. 4. It grows from the primordial earth. 5. An artist contemplates in an eternal condition. 6. The volcanic sun contains unremitting creativity. 7. The sun is in a pure state and its eternal life, like the creative mind, is devoid of every sense of preservation. 8. Light comes from within a work. 9. An intense explosion occurs and the resultant energy is materialized and re-explodes ad infinitum. 10. The existence of a work of art in the world is a meteorite coming from the cosmos; it belongs not to the earth but appears upon it. 11. The fabric of magmatic artwork is an organic fabric. Its smallest part contains the same quality and energy as the work in its entirety. 12. Divine strength and that which is devastating are contained within a work. 13. A work’s body is a closed one and it expands in metaphysical space. 14. It is not born for the good or evil of humanity, nor to criticize it: its only aim is a successful extreme subtlety and to extract itself from all perturbation. 15. A work is not reflected in the world’s mirror but in its own. Each time a reflection is created, an image revealing a coincidence is born, creating a mental landscape that flies from the mind. The potential for intuition and fortunate coincidence is giddily expanded, to the point of reaching the greatest combination of good luck: 6-6. 16. Dice are numbered from 1 to 6, on 6 sides. The combination of these establishes the odds while the concealed parts remain as if invaded by mortal life and destined to downfall. Between 2 contenders, the one with the highest combination wins. The higher the combination, the purer the luck appears to be, the maximum being 6-6. 17. Destiny’s dice are marked with a 6 on each of the 6 sides and open the match to an unalterable combination, like art and its fundamental rules that never change, from time immemorial. 18. An object disappears in magmatic thought and matter acquires its own image. 19. The sovereign image lasts without suffering from time; this feeds and rejuvenates it. 20. An artwork ceases to exist at the very moment it crosses into what is real. 21. The problem of visual art is a visual one. 22. All of our 5 senses precede thought. A work cannot originate as an illustration or a realization of a project. This would mean coming in last in the order of events. 23. A successful work stops to watch. It does not offer solutions and is an emblem which, the more it is excavated, the greater the possibilities for excavation become. The various disciplines of consciousness originate from this continuous excavation: philosophy, sociology, psychology, anthropology, politics, theatre, film, fashion, architecture, cuisine, chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, medicine, plastic surgery, organ transplants… up to the most radical fields of research for immortality. 24. Immortality is only verifiable by death. The immortal is buried within values that it, itself, creates. 25. Artists remain in a the firmament of humanity, like stars, to orient anyone with the desire to look upward. 26. In the abysses and elevations of the imagination, thinking of the lives of objects is possible only in the world of art. 27. Its form is the consequence of its compositional nature and the motivations that generate it always stay the same: the anticipation of reason and will. 28. An artist is subject to the laws of transcendence until the work appears to him. 29. The infinite cannot intend and cannot restrain itself. 30. In the case of religions, miracles are the vehicles for announcing the manifestation of the life of what is inanimate. Were a miracle to happen because of its very nature as a fount, born of an inexplicable reason, it would continue infinitely, plunging everything around it into itself as if it were a chasm. 31. Nothing comes from nothing. 32. Dreams, breathing and the colouring of the face distinguish the sleeping from the dead. 33. Reflections pouring superciliously from the heights immediately evaporate. 34. In diluting itself in modernity, ever more constant is the density of the wine flowing through the earth’s veins that nourishes the eternal intoxication of Polyphemus. 35. Battles must be hot-bloodedly faced: that way the wounds heal painlessly. 36. A will to disorient lingers on the horizon of a magmatic work. 37. A mirror, in magmatic thought, reveals itself as the source of light and escapes the task of reflecting. 38. Not all men are artists. 39. Chess sets off two functions. First, a cooling of emotions. Second, an intensifying of the concentration in the regions of the brain given to calculation, to prevention, to the safeguarding of one’s own skin and to accomplishing a defeat of the adversary. As regards magmatic thought, chess is the game most removed from the games of art and life. 40. Swords arises from the lava soil sharpening themselves and concentrate vertical resistance within themselves. 41. Art avoids death. And, if necessary, it devours death and rises again. 42. The life of magmatic thought generates itself and flows incessantly down a one-way path. 43. A sarcophagus, keeper of the incandescent magma, reveals infinite visions to the oblivious dead man. 44. A beast hauls the cart of magmatic thought and emerges untiringly, without respite, from the remote depths onto smouldering lands. 45. In the cavern of the skull, a choral mass beats its canes and kindles thoughts in the head. 46. The dice of destiny are ruthlessly pounded on the anvil of life in the white-hot furnace until a 6 appears on each of their 6 sides. 47. In the magmatic thought, the author sips the mercurial blush and the poison of truth from the cup of the mirroring skull. 48. In the gold reserve of the magmatic thought, light takes shape and shape fades away in light. 49. The meteorite of unknown provenance is the intuition. 50. The vital hours that foreshadow vision last a lifetime. 51. In the temple of fate, in this calm, infinite sea of reflections, death is made from nothing. 52. In a hail of meteorites the damned are struck on the forehead and throw dice in the circle of fate to the sound of the screams wrenched out of their heads. 53. In artistic processes, when a vision is destitute, the mind turns to politics to stay alive. 54. All that’s left of the battle are ashes. 55. MOTLAQ dwells in each nature and rarely brings the black drop to light, as though it were a pearl falling into the sea without dissolving, but plunging into the depths. 56. NOOR, lets the light from her gaze and intertwine in a dense, fiery and clear embrace. 57. TAPEH is the heartbeat when emotion prevails over reason and generates a vision. 58. TIME is an inexorable blow that rotates tirelessly on the sundial of silence and, prone to destiny, it strives itself in the womb of life.