detail: Hossein Valamanesh, born 1949, Untitled, 1994, lotus leaves on gauze, synthetic polymer paint. Faulding 150 Anniversary Fund for South Australian Contemporary Art 1995


SALA Featured Artist - Hossein VALAMANESH


South Australia became home for Iranian-born artist Hossein Valamanesh in 1973. Today Valamanesh has a national reputation and an international profile. He is also the subject of last year's SALA monograph published by Wakefield Press and launched this year.


Valamanesh has developed a distinct visual language, one in which poetic form is rendered through the everyday. This is exemplified in Untitled in which a folded shirt intricately constructed from lotus leaves is accompanied by a figurative shadow painted directly onto the gallery wall. The shadow, formed from Farsi text found in a Sufi poem by Rumi, translates as: I tear my shirt with every breath for the extent of ecstasy and joy of being in love; now he has become all my being, and I am only a shirt.


This work of art has a performative dimension - each time it is installed the artist re-creates the figurative shadow. Untitled testifies to the artist's abiding interest in transformation and the passage of time.


Mary Knights, Director of SASA Gallery, UniSA, and
co-author of the Wakefield Press SALA monograph on
Hossein Valamanesh (pictured right), has written the following in response to Untitled, 1994.

Hossein Valamanesh book Out Of Nothingness

In Untitled, Hossein Valamanesh has achieved a pared-back simplicity and formal beauty. Made with natural materials and fragments of text, it resonates with metaphorical and cultural associations. As well as suggesting the presence of the artist, the shirt crafted from lotus leaves carries references to identity and place, the fecundity of nature, the materiality of life, death and decay.


Every element is precisely placed, creating poetic and aesthetic tension. Language and text are frequently integrated into Hossein’s work, contributing layers of complexity. Here, ancient poetry by the Persian mystic Rumi seems to skim across the wall as if a whisper or a shadow. Handwritten in Farsi, it alludes to the artist’s Iranian heritage and emphasises the ambiguous and contemplative nature of the work.



detail: Hossein Valamanesh
Australia, born 1949
1994, Adelaide
lotus leaves on gauze, synthetic polymer paint
Faulding 150 Anniversary Fund for South Australian Contemporary Art 1995
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
© Hossein Valamanesh 


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