Bosom for Embracing the World
A note on Leila Vismeh’s Exhibition in Day Gallery
By: Seyed Amir Soghrati
Though Leila Vismeh is better known with her paintings exhibited in group exhibitions but she is a painter manifesting variety of activities in her artistic work sheet in the fields of mask, facades, statuette, sculpture, pottery, and relief paintings, all attractive and spectacular works revolving round the axis of contemporary man and his internal complexity. This time, she has displayed her most recent painting achievements, again dealing with man, in Day Gallery.
Formerly, in her masks, sculptures, and paintings and in the angles of faces and deformation of facial forms, the artist displayed the suffering of man. Surprisingly, men, whether beater or beaten, attacker or attacked, … are ultimately similar to each other, as if the artist wants to say that if you cannot run away from the repeated and vicious circle of horror and hate, you are loser irrespective of the fact that you are oppressor or oppressed.
In her works especially in masks and facades – which have not been displayed in Iran completely – faces have always manifested human hesitations and resistance toward the suffering of living. The character of a man, sunk and distorted because of undeserved suffering, has been illustrated.
It is true that in her works, man is a frail and toil-worn but the decayed and disintegrated man is not a product of ants’ winter. The artist removes the external façade of faces and displays the soul of man in naked state. In some of her paintings, masks, and facades the artist has sharpened and made painful the angles of some faces and has scraped them mercilessly. The abhorring feeling of a hated man or highly deformed person which is obvious in some faces is a trigger on mind reminding that lies and cheatings of man are clothes on the “body of life”, or are it the life itself?
In present exhibition in Day Gallery, the artist neglects the man generally and instead deals with humanistic position of bodies, mostly mother and child, in an unknown space. The painter goes through family albums and displays mothers and children whom we have seen repeatedly in family albums of ourselves. Mothers have kept their children in their bosoms as the most valuable things of the existence. In some works, the narration space is so concealed and uncertain that unsafe feeling fills the soul and at this moment the only safe shelter is the arms of the mother who will keep her child in arms till the last breath because she wants to be sure of child’s existence.
By making alterations in faces, the artist deepens the expression of the image. When the subjects have become faceless it is as if we have lost them and we do not know them. Have they been buried in memories? Have they lost their lives in turbulence of war? From other angle, aren’t we these mothers and children who have forgotten our own entity and innocence of our childhood?
It is true that destruction of the face of a child comfortably reclined in her mother’s bosom is a bitter and anguishing act but Leila Vismeh does not display the wickedness of contemporary man. She does not let the evils enter into her paintings, she does not paint ugliness and ill-naturedness. War and the stupidity of war mongers are forbidden from entering in the world of her paintings. In her works, gentleness and kindness are seen along with disturbance and full-of-energy colours and it is as if these colours and acts are advising us to resist against what makes life painful and are commending us to sing and murmur our songs among the clanking noise of ever-cutting swords.
There is no symbol in Leila Vismeh’s paintings. While the narration space is vague and the painting environment is timeless and spaceless, the references do not slide toward visual signs and equivocal readings. By mentioning Latin numerals, the painter bonds the time to present moment. With these Latin numerals, the world of her paintings may connect to out-of-Iran world. But, it is only after being aware of the fact that the painter was born in 1979 and seeing this figure on the face of children one can find out that 1979 is a sign to give direction to the minds remembering the turbulent decade of 1970’s in the world arena. In those years there was an international determination to change the ideological relations which was dominant in the world. Political-philosophical dialogue, intellectual revolutions, and being leftist and thinking in “right” for going out of imbalanced space of cold war had lunatic results in the world arena. For my generation who has come into being in year 1979, this year is reminder of occurrence of Islamic Revolution. The fever and glow of those years and its connection to wartime too our entire first decade of life. The suffering of those day and lack of vision for coming years were devastating worries mixed with political disturbances and roaring of Iraqi aircraft. Coincidentally, the painter displays her works on a week which is 31 years and 7 days after the first day of the war. And now the faceless children of her painter must be in their low thirties who are wandering in the world of today looking for a face and find no bosom to enjoy motherly care.
Everything in this world is coloured by regret and the past, in spite of all its difficulties, seems to be more beautiful than present state. Leila Vismeh displays a form of regret in which any beautiful thing is accompanied by a feeling of old memories and nostalgia of passed days. It has been said that the material of Jesus’ kindness had been feminine and motherly, a sort of kindness which expects no response and gives generously even if there is no need, that sort of kindness which yields expectation and makes others to expect kindness continuously without any response and even if others injured you, you still remain lover in silence.
For keeping the Earth, a motherly hand is needed.
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