M e h r i D a d g a r I believe art has the power to be a cohesive force in our troubled world. In my art, I explore the relationship between East and West, and these interactions sometimes result in harmonious blends or stark contrasts. Both can be illuminating. My paintings of the past years have been a blend, or hybrid, of Western and Middle Eastern influences; I am incorporating certain elements of ancient Islamic art (color, pattern, form, arabesque, calligraphy and miniature painting) within the context of a contemporary Western abstract style. Alternatively, I sometimes have Western elements intrude upon a predominantly Islamic art context. The mathematical basis of Islamic art creates a systematic, peaceful space even in very complex designs, and is ever-present in Islamic architecture, illustration, music, and calligraphy. My research into the origins of Islam and Islamic art has informed my own work, particularly in my use of abstract shapes, geometric design, and the repetition of organic forms. There is a need in our world for us to embrace our common humanity and to realize that all people need to be free to believe as they wish. An essential aspect of that freedom is the freedom not to believe as well, for that is basic to any concept of universal human rights. I, as a researcher, have recognized that the God described in the Quran is the same God described in Old Testament, New Testament and some other religion books based on Monotheism. The paintings appearing in this current exhibition celebrate the universal God of infinite love and mercy. They emphasize the joy and oneness of God in all of our faiths. Though they exhibit patterns, letter forms, numerical representations, figures derived from Persian miniatures, phrases from the Quran evocative of the universality of different faiths around the world, and even the earth tones of my native Iran, I feel they explore an abstract “universe of the mind” common to us all. In stark contrast to my paintings, I need to address the harsh reality of the Islamic religion at this crucial time in history and its apparent distance from the true scriptures of the Quran. In a documentary movie I have made, I interviewed a few practicing Muslims in America who read, study and ask questions of themselves about the scriptures; they are part of a new peaceful movement in the Islamic faith to speak of the solutions through arts. In all my recent works, I am trying to go deep within myself to see clearly the challenges and choices before me. My film and installation works seek to expose social ills, historical facts, and the political situation exposure which is an essential step for searching the truth. On a totally different front, I continue to freely experiment in my paintings. I am striving for a sense of harmony between the design elements and the pictorial elements that I am introducing in them, which were all but absent in early Islamic art. Though I approach my paintings with real intent, I always want to leave room for artistic serendipity. Mehri Dadgar
I wrote a book, “A prison Story - Iran” because I had something to say about my time in prison. I make some films for I wish somebody had made them when I needed them the most, but I was born an artist and my mother made me a teacher with her love for education, she never received. For my love for learning, God willing, I will always remain a student.
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