for Mehrdad Sadri


Cal W. Downs, ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, University of Kansas

President, Communication Management lnc.


Ladies and Gentlemen, what a pleasure it is for me to introduce this exhibition that celebrates the life and artistic talent of M. Sadri. The atmosphere at this exhibition is always expectant of beauty, pleasure, and encounters with something new. I have perhaps an impossible task: to communicate about his art in words. The media are different; the symbols are different. “One cannot express in words what one feels with one’s eyes.” (Giacometti) His artistic revelations affects the senses, the emotions, the intellect in non-linguistic ways, and any attempt to define them in words often misrepresents, distorts or limits their total impact. Herman Hesse once said “We are dreaming of a speech without words that utter the inexpressible and give form to the formless.” Nevertheless, I shall make observations about his work.


1. Beauty is the aesthetic character of artistic thought, and his paintings are beautiful. But from the beginning, Sadri has never been interested in painting merely as decoration. What he represents is not just a reconstruction of a person or scene. Importantly, his art contemplates abstract ideas. As an artist who is always aware of what happens to people, he looks at the realities of life sometimes hard, sometimes beautiful and puts that reality into aesthetic terms. However, he uses colour to depict a ray of light because he does not want to reinforce the negative that sometimes accompanies fatalism. Beauty also resists reduction. Sadri apparently has no interest in disinterested rationality. And as you explore the paintings in this exhibition, you will encounter a number of different spheres of reality religion, politics, and personal states, sometimes erotic. What he represents is always connected to life, and feelings come out---even though he may not be able to change circumstances.


2. Viewing Sadri’s art can be a mystical experience. His substance is never explicit. In fact, his is a masterful expression of abstraction that involves solving a mystery. While he provides nuances that focus on some overarching principle of reality, each painting has numerous levels for us to experience. What stands out when we first see his painting may ultimately slip into the background as we experience a stimulus not easily seen at first. In other words, he provides us with a bit of a story, an experience veiled, imaginative, and without end.


Unlike some communicators, Sadri has refused to make his intentions explicit. Because he knows that each of us perceives the world differently, he forces us to explore his fantasies on our own terms and in our own contexts. With special cropping and blow-ups of the part, he challenges us to contemplate how the part relates to a more complete mood or feeling. Even he admits that when he sees his paintings he remembers the context in which he painted them, but he also often sees something new. Imaginative perception is mysterious, often connecting our unconscious with our conscious. He once commented that he is motivated by dreams. Because he has dreamed, we experience new colourful dreams, which produce thoughts, moods and feelings that perhaps we had never acknowledged. Thus, he leads us to a freedom of the spirit that draws us out of cultural black holes that may have given us a homogenizing nature. Expiring art this way can lead to an exhilarating personal growth.


3. Sadri is unique in developing folds/ribbons as his alphabet. It is obvious that the folds add colourful texture, but they also give an accelerated experience of movement in his paintings through which one achieves, moment to moment, utterly fresh experiential terrain. (Soffer) That sense of movement is by design. He is open to infinity of perspectives and ceaseless reflection. There is a musicality to his world colour and tone that creates an inner mood. As in listening to great music, one never concentrates on the individual notes but listens to the unfolding musical line or context. Similarly, Sadri invites us to reflect, not on the details, but on the development of ideas. Wittgenstein describes a difference between “seeing that” versus “seeing as.” In this sense, Sadri’s artistic expression may be essentially dialogic. Its presentation carries forward, modifying the receiver, leaving one forever changed by new perceptions.


4. Many have commented on the sensuality and subtle eroticism of his art. Indeed, his paintings produce pleasure, and beautiful bodies are central to many of his paintings. Inherently, these paintings may evoke desire both physically and intellectually. But desire is an effort to make sense, and to make sense is always to make NEW sense. (Soffer, p. 14)


Viewed as representations of the human condition in a multiplicity of states, however, I think his sensuality seems more reflective than hedonistic.


5. One cannot separate the art from the artist. He sees his personal truths and expresses them in his paintings. In this sense, we get an opportunity to look into his soul as he creates images that reveals his emotional state of mind and his personality. Although Sadri has lived in Vienna many years, he grew up in Iran and has told me that even he has been surprised at how much that historical non-linear world view has shaped much of his art.


6. The title of this exhibition is INTERACTION, which is the objective of all communication. However, interaction itself is not a thing but may be a constantly changing process and will be different at different times and places. There are at least 4 paintings here titled interaction. All are similar; all are different in some important aspects. Tonight I have explored three different forms of interaction: a) the interaction between artist and canvas, b) the interaction of elements on the canvas, and c) the interaction between viewer and canvas. I now invite you to explore more fully the interactions between viewer and canvas. You also have an unusual opportunity to add a fourth interaction: the interaction of viewer and artist. Sadri’s art is a gift to us, and I invite you to accept that gift graciously and enthusiastically.


Thank you.




Copyright © 2018 Mehrdad Sadri. All rights reserved.