Touching at a Distance


Touching at a Distance
Curator’s note

Drawing is touching at a distance

Arthur Polonsky

If we choose to categorize Ashkan Sanei’s work, we can consider the works on display as minimal abstract pieces in which the creative process is of great importance. Also, we can classify his works as Drawing and hence, call attention to the status, diversity and importance of this medium in the contemporary art world and consider it as an act of vision and speculation. This way, we can also hypothetically describe it as a kind of conceptual art, in a sense which mirrors the artist’s deliberations and state of mind. Or if we decide to list the general characteristics of his work using contemporary art terminology, we may consider using terms such as collage, bricolage, repetition and appropriation; all major qualities of Postmodern art. Or perhaps we could ensue to decode an artwork by understanding the artists’ intentions as it is dtwo in a modernistic approach. But is it essential at all to categorize artworks in order to interpret them? Is it necessary to search for meaning? Could the imagination and the re-creation of the creative process be an inspiring game to put the viewers in an interactive state? Or perhaps a more direct communication could be formed if the work itself was more inviting to be “seen” instead of “read”, like what happens when one views a Siah mashq?

Re-readings of established histories offer new approaches, and re-communicating the past in a new language – be it literal or visual – strongly changes the fundamental connotations we all take for granted. And of course, this also implies to Drawing as a contemporary art form. In Ashkan Sanei’s work, a contemporary reading of topics, such as present-day understanding of abstraction versus representational reality, the relation between a holistic and atomistic vision and the concept of distance and its impact on the reading of the image could be traced. By emphasizing the characteristics of the materials that he employs, this reading succeeds to create a lighter experimentation for both the artist and the viewer. His works are all created in an expressive language that face diverse functions and various visual experiences. Also, his works are tremendously unbroken and the contrast between their emptiness and fullness, lightness and heaviness and darkness and lightness emphasize their poetic tone.

In this exhibition, Ashkan Sanei, is inspired by the concept of “lightness”, the way Italo Calvino describes it in his book Six Memos for the Next Millennium. He recounts it in his visual language by adding and detracting layers of paper, proving once again that his work is process-oriented. With his direct yet spontaneous vision through his dynamic artistic practice, he plays around in the process of creation and speaks his own language by literally and subjectively distancing himself from his topics and engaging his inner feelings. To Ashkan Sanei, experimentation, making the best of the characteristics of the medium of his choice and drowning in the process of creation are fundamental. It is through repetition, pasting, detaching, scribbling, taking notes, adding color, making collages and tearing pieces of paper – as his main medium – that he speaks his word, tells us about his identity, deliberates his thoughts and very directly, in an abstract yet friendly way, touches us from a distance.


Maryam Majd
November 2020