Fadavi: On the Shoulders of Giants

Art history, that long and winding time line of man’s creative endeavours, from Caravaggio to Vincent Van Gogh, is the culmination of his attempt to visually articulate the spiritual, the mystical and the psychological, to explore the darkness and disorder that dwells inside our civilisations to exalting their divinity and incomparable magnificence.

For the artist, beauty has been his goal, whether beauty of light or darkness, of savagery or the civilised. As the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle put it: “The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness, which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree.” but also, as he would later hypothesise in Poetics, beauty can come from that which is organic too, even with its deviations from the norm.Engaging in Aristotle’s philosophy is Persian artist Mohammad Hadi Fadavi, whose paintings offer the spectator a vision of Persian art history that is beautifully fused with his own thoughts and emotions. Fadavi draws his inspiration from the bountiful treasures of intricate miniature paintings of the Safavid’s and Qajar’s. He invites us to marvel at the wonders of the past yet from a contemporary perspective.

A flourishing of interest in recapturing the creative essence of the past masters is taking hold. Like those artists of the Renaissance in 15th century Italy, who had rediscovered the classical works of Ancient Greece and Rome, modern artists are now drawing their creative zeal from the past, like L.A. based painter Jason Seife.

Speaking to Fadavi, bursting with an infectious joie de vivre, he explained his approach to his work in an intricate form. “My paintings are the fruit of years spent, I’ve been through many different styles and explored many different methods to reach this present incarnation. Over all, I wish to express a new language whilst remaining loyal to the culture and history of my country.”

Fadavi’s ruminations on his process soon drifted to the purpose of his art, which he described as “Hope and passion for life.” He continued “There is Spring and their is Autumn in any world, but in the world of hope there is no Autumn, in hope of a gaining a more beautiful vision of the world. But I should mention, this is my purpose, but I have no particular philosophy behind my works, just that I try not to limit my creative flow and not to bind it to overly intellectual concepts so that it remains fluent.”

Our conversation, although short, showed to me that here is a man of poetry, but also of pragmatism, to not let his art become bogged down in the intellectual, which can often place a barrier between the ordinary man and the work itself, as we see in so many works of Post Modernism and indeed much artwork from post-1910.

A Precious Gift

His historical inspirations he explained were not a mere simplification nor devotion to any particular era. “Of course I cannot deny nor should I, that I feel a great sense of belonging to the rich history of my Mother Land, yet at the same time I cannot emphasise on a particular period, whatever I have seen and read of our history has somehow made its way into my work. As one can see there are lots of Safavid colours and shapes, but there are much older patterns and ornamentations, which one can find in the Pre-Islamic eras.”

As our conversation drew to close, I asked whether it was about standing on the shoulders of giants and if that is how great art comes about, by realising that.

“It is true, our history is our treasure and legacy. Actually, there is no other way than to stand on the shoulders of giant, and in order to appreciate their works one should value the precious gift of creativity.”