Curated by: Bruno Corà
Location: Dastan Gallery, Tehran [Iran]
Date: 1 – 22 February 2019
the mountain slope
resounded the short low sound
of the calmed incandescent body
in the dawn rising from the heart of madness,
flowering phantom rooted in the earth
passing through the belly,
venerable fertility amassed
together with the sea … ” (Bizhan Bassiri)
Reciting these lines, thirty-five years ago, the sleepwalker climbed over the cold magma on the slopes of the volcano Vesuvius and appeared for the first time in the darkness, barely lit by the moon. In the guise of a proud drawing, The Prince (1982) of sleepwalking lingered “on the slope of the bitter earth”, waiting for the shower of meteorites to anticipate “in the hours that precede the vision” every future image, the outcome of continuous intuitions.
The first trace of this epic behaviour that Bassiri fuels with verses, drawings, sculptures and “evaporations” is found in Landscapes of the Mind (1978). The “Eccentric Prince” climbed the slope of the volcano on an initiatory journey, a sleepwalker in the darkness, where the figures of “Magmatic Thought” took on the appearance and forms of phantoms, thoughts ready to receive the shower of meteorites for the duration of a lifetime. It was at that moment that Bassiri experienced the epiphany of “Magmatic Thought”, and shortly thereafter, the first axiom of the Manifesto of Magmatic Thought.” (Bruno Corà)
Now, once again, in this one of his many returns to the places of his youth, Bizhan Bassiri reactivates an imagination that is anything but fanciful, nourished by an inextinguishable flow of memories as explosive as magmatic lava. In his Tehran exhibition, Bassiri has realized a pictorial and sculptural synthesis, evoking forms, concepts, symbols and linguistic modes that constitute the basis of his artistic path. While the “Slope” is both a real and an imaginary place, being closely connected with the geological and magmatic dimension of the volcano, it is also the plane on which incandescent matter flows dynamically from the bowels of the earth, in the darkness of a condition that art helps to illuminate. The supreme Italian poet, Dante, author of the three-part Divine Comedy, also evokes this condition of darkness in his cathartic journey from darkness to light, from error to knowledge.
“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)
In the darkness of Landscapes of the Mind and Landscapes of Magmatic Thought, dating from 1978, conceived and executed by Bassiri, the artist, in identifying with “sleepwalking” thought, is constantly seeking signs and forms to guide him towards self-realization. In that metaphorical darkness, he walks by the light of the moon, which helps him see the path. Thus, high up in the dark sky, the disc of light that accompanies him is the moon, the proverbial interlocutor of poets. All nature comes to life in its luminous splendour and, even more than human beings, the animals hidden and nourished by the earth – among them, the serpent, ancient mercurial symbol that takes on multiple guises: sword, sceptre, staff and more.” (Bruno Corà)