June’s solo artist Abol Bahadori talks about his intuitive process, the questions that drive his art, and the meaning of his exhibit Perspectives.
By Julia Chance
Abol Bahadori says that Perspectives, his new exhibit of prismatic paintings, was inspired by the aha moment he imagines Renaissance artists had when they rediscovered the laws of perspective. “I assume they were shocked or pleasantly surprised by how a perspective grid helped them make their representational art a lot more realistic,” he recalls. “I wanted to experience what the Renaissance artists experienced.”
In his case, he sought to use elements of perspective, like the grid itself, to give his abstract art a different perception. Or, as he puts it, “To awaken something that was not there.” Thus Perspectives, his new exhibit currently on view at The Art League Gallery.
Bahadori uses trapezoids and triangles generated by 3D grids as abstract planes to showcase his colors. He further enhances some of his compositions with realistic figures and illustrations and refers to them as “positive distractions.” They enhance the composition by breaking the symmetry and changing the gaze or focal point. The human, animal, and insect illustrations are additional elements to display color, which the artist calls “the main player” in his paintings.
Here, Bahadori shares his process, why he likes to dabble in different mediums, and what he hopes viewers get from Perspectives.
Describe your artistry?
I am a mixed media painter and consider myself a colorist. I am also a graphic designer and digital illustrator.
Do you create art every day?
Yes, I create art every day. I am either painting, creating digital art, or both every day. Most of my digital art is for promotional purposes and campaigns as part of my graphic design contracts—from cartoons to animations, logo and brand elements, and illustrations.
Describe your process.
I am an intuitive painter. I rarely do sketches, but more recently I take pictures of my paintings and edit them digitally before altering them with paint on canvas. This is mainly to speed up the process. It has its pros and cons, and I am very selective about transferring some of the techniques onto the screen. It all depends on what I am working on and how my intuition guides me at the moment. Continuing the work on a monitor is excellent, for example, altering colors quickly, but not for something you can only achieve by sanding the surface. I always surprise myself with spontaneous and completely unplanned final steps.
What mediums do you like to work in?
I constantly explore new media. I used to paint predominantly with acrylic and oil. Now, I also use watercolor, acrylic spray paint, acrylic pens, digital collage, and pastel on the same pieces. It is the new varieties of surface building acrylic products that make this possible. I try to take advantage of new materials just like an architect or car designer does—better insulation, endurance, and tactile properties. I could not even imagine painting watercolor and pastel on top of a dried acrylic surface and making it archival 10 years ago. I love to use whatever medium necessary to achieve my desired effect.
Describe your solo show Perspectives.
We view the world using our eyes with a limited color spectrum and depth of vision. But what if we had compound eyes like insects, sonar capabilities like dolphins, and utilized other senses to receive our vision? In this series I attempt to visualize the world through a different sensorium. The perspective grid as an added (3rd) dimension to the two-dimensional abstract art triggers that and sends more information to our brain. It also holds the picture together loosely as a wireframe in the background as in Ascending, or more dominantly by creating the composition itself, as in Levitation.
Has the concept for your exhibit changed from what you originally proposed two years ago?
No, it did not. In contrary, my initial concept got stronger through many more experiments with different processes and media each time relying on the same concept—how perception of depth could be used as a tool to serve a different purpose, for example, abstract shapes and mosaics to display color, to confuse the eye, and invite us into a different world.
What are the questions or ideas that drive your art?
Does it look like a “soulmate” that I had never met before, but I somehow recognize? Does it intrigue curiosity and engage me? Can I stare at it and discover more without being annoyed about “something wrong” in it? Does it leave space for the imagination? The color palette especially has to fit my taste and yet has something different in it that doesn’t bore me. Every piece has to wow me to a certain degree before I decide it is done. I love to break the basic rules of composition and color harmony too, but that is not always a must. Aesthetics are also crucial for me—I am not about “shockingly repulsive,” even though I have nothing against that type of art.
What are you currently working on?
I work on several series at the same time. Sometimes they merge and give birth to a new series. Currently, I am working on my Music series and Perspective series (Abol Bahadori’s series can be viewed here.)
How has this period of pandemic and social distancing been like for you?
Suffocating and yet freeing. Would’ve been much harder to go through it without painting.
What do you hope viewers glean from Perspectives?
To get intrigued and absorbed. To spend time delving into them; see their own story in each painting; fill the gaps or the void with their imagination. To remember them.
Perspectives is on view through July 3.