Sculptures by Saeed Shahlapour


The Iranian pioneer modern artist, Saeed Shahlapour, held his first solo exhibition 53 years ago in “Ghandriz Hall”, Tehran (1968). Since then, nothing has seized him from constant working, in his studio in Kelardasht -a green rural region in Northern Iran- where he has built up his artistic microcosm.

The present exhibition includes his semi-abstract and wall-like sculptures. The effective element of the series is the pulsating rhythm resulting from frequent cuts and wounds on the wood body. Such expressive rhythm is an operative component in Shahlapour’s works, while it also echoes his existential mode and personality. This energetic zigzag rhythm first appeared in the artist’s paintings in the late sixties and has been prominent in the artist’s sculptures for the last two decades.

While much of contemporary sculpture is dependent on the assemblage technique, carving might seem to be an eccentric choice. The choice of such a direct and unassisted method manifests the artist’s tendency to the “work” itself: the act of carving and cutting, the first-hand intervention of the artist’s body, and the visible traces of physical act, Shahlapour is a prolific artist who constantly explores various means of expression and mobilizes his world through creation.

A painterly approach is also visible in Shahlapour’s sculptures. Rich textures, scored surfaces, and expressive scratches reveal the artist’s regard for the surface of the work. An emphasis on exposing the inherent characteristics of the material calls for the tactile eye. Likewise, the frames, skeletal structures, and the linear elements which stretch out of the sculpture show the interconnection between the two media. This is also evident in the prints shown in the exhibition. Using the natural texture of wood blocks as a cliché, the artist has realized the dynamism and expressive potentials of the timber surface, and this might be considered a notable advantage of this series. The organic texture and the tracks of the growth are echoed in the prints, creating a strong bond between the prints and the sculptures.

Shahlapour’s art oscillates between figuration and abstraction. This makes open-endedness a feature of his sculptures; as if a process of erosion has blown over these figures and removed their clear boundaries and explicit allusions. The form is obtained through cutting down, and the unfinished quality alludes to the infinity of the creation process. These figures stand in an in-between space in which they constantly approach and move away from more specific subjects.

The wall-like character of the present works defines the space and directs the viewers’ bodies. The hollow between them creates a pulsating visual rhythm which expands beyond the boundaries of the work and pulsates into the space, and altogether, it intensifies the audiences’ awareness of being in and moving within the space.

Helia Darabi