Sleepless Nights

Exhibition of new works by Iranian artist Golnaz Fathi

28 May 2008
22 Jun 2008

Firmly anchored in extensive training in traditional calligraphy, Fathi has for over fifteen years now been perfecting the ability of script to communicate meaning away from its actual referent.

golnaz fathi_untitled4 - Acrylic and pen on canvas_29x38cm_2008_650.jpg Golnaz Fathi


In Sleepless Nights, Golnaz Fathi delves into the flexibility of Arabic calligraphic script, and its varied applications, with a thick brush, fine pen or bright white lines of light. As the words are vacated from their meaning, their forms take to the forefront and are charged with emotive potential. However, whereas her previous works included bright reds, blues and yellows competing with the speckled script, simple blocks of black and white now dominate the stream of words.

As part of the artist’s continued explorations, Fathi constantly reinvents her bag of painterly tricks. She has moved from a ‘layering and searching methodology’ in her earlier works, to drastically editing down her approach and resolving for a single strategically placed gesture - much like a highly controlled action painter. In this most recent body of work, Fathi has moved towards much smaller, more invested and obsessive types of mark making. The traditional modes of practicing calligraphy are still referenced as entire surfaces turn black with scribbles, known as the Siah Mashgh approach. This practice was originally a warm up exercise for the calligrapher to refine the shape of letters by repeating them over and over. These applications thus resulted in the page being filled with words and letters, hence the name Siah Mashgh literally meaning “Black Practice”.

Fathi is concerned with perfecting language on two levels: that of the painterly range of gestures and that of the actual script. Both languages have been able to interweave complimentarily through her works.

Sleepless Nights, has derived the notion of spontaneity from Golnaz’s work. She has given up on the idea of getting it ‘just right’ with one motion and opted for a much more time based approach. The meditative aspects of her ‘scribbles’ are inherently based on the passing of time. Highly labour intensive, her new works create textures, surfaces and tensions all through the simple and incessant repetition of lines. Framed by the boldness of the blacks and whites, the essence of the words and the letters dissolve into a strangely still frenzy of movement.

More complex in its ability to convey meaning, Sleepless Nights is just that: an introverted and pensive form of communication that holds within it open-ended forms of emotion.