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What Time is it, my Heart?

by mana on March 14th, 2012

Spring epitomizes rebirth, renewal and regrowth. Artists of all varieties have celebrated it, from the prologue of the Canterbury Tales to Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. One of my favorite paintings has always been Botticelli’s Primavera. Standing amidst a profusion of flowers in an orange grove, an allegorical group of six women and two men symbolize the fertile promise of Spring, while blind Cupid floats overhead, ready to loose an arrow. The rich dreamy detail painted in a playful way, and the interplay of the mythological personalities always fascinates me. Botticelli drew on classical sources, particularly Ode I.31 of Horace and “De Rerum Natura“, by Lucretius.

In Persian culture the beginning of Spring is Nowruz, the major holiday of the year. Persians everywhere get together on this date to celebrate the start of a new year. It is a time for Spring cleaning, visiting relatives and close friends, and exchanging gifts. A traditional part of Nowruz is the Haft-Sin.

The Haft-Sin is a table setting in which seven items whose names all start with S are laid out in an attractive composition. They symbolize life, health, wealth, abundance, love, patience and purity. Also included is a bowl of water containing goldfish, representing life within life, and alluding to the position of the Sun in Pisces. The tradition is a very ancient one, dating back to Zoroastrian sources.

Koi Among the Water Lilies

Adriana Ippati-Torrens, “Koi Among the Water Lilies”,28” x 21”, watercolor.

This painting by my friend Adriana Ippati-Torrens was inspired by a visit to a Koi pond at Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, California. Adriana is a watercolorist who does not paint from images, but “from memories and inspirations that include family experience, travel to new or familiar places, and personal stories collected over time. I often integrate bits and pieces of my life experience within layered surfaces of pure color.
I love this painting because the fish is better off free instead of in a bowl, and the texture of the colors gives me a feeling of antiquity.

At times many people including myself are faced with family issues or other sad events. In those moments, we can create an image of beauty, when we do not have it. We can paint the allegory of Spring as did Botticelli, or paint a Haft-Sin like the one by my cousin Roshan Houshmand below.


Roshan Houshmand, “Haft Sin”, Oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches.

With such creations, an artist brings her attachment to the beautiful parts of the cutlure while expressing her own identity. Roshan’s painting with its simplicity achieves this complex task. Roshan Houshmand is an internationally exhibited artist whose recent paintings are global in scope as they address eastern artistic traditions of the past, examining relationships between symbol, pattern and chance.

Roshan Houshmand, "White Rabbit," 30 x 30 inches, oil on canvas, 2011

Roshan Houshmand, "White Rabbit," 30 x 30 inches, oil on canvas, 2011.

She has just returned from a stay in India and her most recent paintings will be on view at Booth 168 at the NY Art Expo in March.

The date of Nowruz is the Spring equinox but the calendar in Iran is not a simple matter. It changes based on who is in power. In 1976, the Shah changed the year from 1355 to 2535 but the revolutionary government changed it back three years later. The official Hejri calendar is solar, and very accurate, but the Islamic lunar calendar is used for religious dates, and the Western calendar for International events. As a child, I was never sure exactly when anything was going to happen! The best solution is the countdown calendar by the artist Kourosh Salehi.

Kourosh Salehi, "Countdown", mixed media on canvas, 1.5m x 2.2m.

Kourosh Salehi, "Countdown," mixed media on canvas, 1.5m x 2.2m.

This calendar connects me with my childhood memories. Kourosh combines his memories of Iran with symbols drawn from the contemporary world in which he lives, to express the conflicts felt in reintegrating our past into where we are heading in the future.

One of my best memories is when I would taste the juicy red seeds in a pomegranate. And this pomegranate painted by the artist Kourosh Salehi reminds me of that. In Persian mythology, Isfandiyar eats a pomegranate and becomes invincible.

Kourosh Salehi, "Lost in Transportation," mixed media on canvas,1m x 1m.

Kourosh Salehi, "Lost in Transportation," mixed media on canvas,1m x 1m.

Many artists have celebrated Spring including the French Singer, Manou Chao with his music Primavera.

What time is it my heart?
What time is it my heart?
What time is it my heart?
What time is it my heart?

What time is it in England?
What time is it in Gibraltar?
What time is it over there in Fisterra?
What time is it hey Bye bye Bom?
What time is an entire life?
What time is it in Japan?
What time is it in Mozambique?
What time is it in Washington?
They fooled us Bye bye Bom!
They fooled us with Spring!
They fooled us Bye bye Bom!


What time is it my heart?

From → Musings

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