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"Hossein Valamanesh – A survey"
2001-06-29 until 2001-08-26
Art Gallery of South Australia
Adelaide, SA, AU

Over the last 20 years Adelaide-based Hossein Valamanesh has become established as one of Australia’s best-known contemporary artists. Often utilising the most elemental of natural materials – branches, flames, leaves, sand, mud, seeds, earth – Valamanesh seeks out an essential connection to place through the simplest of means.

His poetic works explore issues such as cultural identity, history, memory and the relationship between humanity and the natural world.

Hossein Valamanesh was born in Teheran in 1949 to Azerbaijani parents and lived in Iran until immigrating to Australia when he was twenty-four. His work draws heavily on his Iranian heritage, invoking the ancient world of Sufi poetry, the mystical whirling dervishes and the magical mythology of Persian carpets.

The human body is also a strong theme in Valamanesh’s works. Shadows, for example, appear as ghostly human presences in a variety of forms. In Untitled, 1995, a neatly folded shirt is beautifully fashioned from lotus leaves, while a shadow is created by the shaping of an ecstatic love poem by the thirteenth-century Persian poet Rumi. The body is implied by an intimate detail in another work, Homa, 2000, in which a woman’s plait is woven from palm fronds. Hung beside a photographic image of the artist’s grandmother, the plait becomes a tender evocation of a personal memory.

This is a gentle, poetic and beautiful exhibition. It represents the first major survey of Valamanesh’s work and will include some sixty works from both public and private collections.


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