Symphony in Blue
As I walk in the space and experience the events, I feel a sense of time deconstructed and united. The events are held at Stanford University but they bring up images from the distant past in faraway places, glued together through common themes.
The first exhibit, at the Cantor Museum, presents the French artist Honoré Daumier, best known for his caricatures of political figures. During the reign of Louis Philippe, Daumier joined the staff of the comic journal, La Caricature. Through his caricatures he targeted the corruption of the French government of the time. As I saw the exhibit with my French conversation group, other images came to my mind.
In Bull’s Eye, the British-Iranian artist Kourosh Salehi depicts the Shah of Iran and his three wives and places it in an uneasy encounter with the audience. The viewer is invited to ask the hows and whys, deconstruct the events and reassemble the storyline. It is through this questioning that not only we attempt to make sense of how our lives through historical events has changed, but find our place in history and make sense of it.
A few blocks away from the exhibit, I enter a room where Mohsen Yalfani’s piece “La Solitude Confuse d’un Chauffeur de Taxi” is performed. Yalfani is an Iranian playwright who first established his reputation in the years before the revolution. His plays reflected the social problems of the time. Just like Daumier, he spent several years in prison as a result of his art. Currently, he lives in Paris and is one of the leading voices of the Iranian Writers Association in Exile. In this rendition, some of the actors are former political prisoners from Iran. The play tells the story of a taxi driver who evaluates his life in a series of conversations with his passengers. Stuck in this cage, the driver revisits the milestones of his life and concludes that it has been a failure. He is left with only a few scattered memories to hold on to.
Roshan Houshmand’s painting Symphony in Blue brings a process of deconstruction of physical images and their subsequent recreation in different spaces similar to my experience at Stanford. This work is part of a series of paintings titled Trailscripts. As I walk and see the specific events, Houshmand’s painting of time, travel, and chaos comes to my mind. While her painting is abstract, the images in front of me are real.
Symphony in Blue is all in the tone of blue, calm in the presence of different images. I wish to keep the events in my memory as in Houshmand’s painting, a reconstructed image with a beautiful purpose. Structures to keep our psyches safe and sound in the face of brutal historical events while keeping our sense of who we are and where we are going.
Both Symphony in Blue and Bull’s Eyes are available for purchase from the respective painters.
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