"ORGANIC" - UNIDO Vienna April 2013


Cal W. Downs, ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, University of Kansas

President, Communication Management lnc.


Ladies and Gentleman,


What an honor it is for me to welcome you and to celebrate the opening of this new exhibition for the art of Mehrdad Sadri.  And it is particularly fitting that this event take place in the United Nations: where dialogue is aimed toward  harmonizing a mosaic of cultures to achieve peace, friendship, freedom and improvement.  In such harmonies one can find not only a shared truth but also great beauty. Tonight we get to reflect on the uniting of  truth and beauty in the art of Merhdad Sadri.


Sadri is an artist, but we need to recognize that he also is a philosopher  who gives philosophic underpinnings to his art. He has a special conceptual ability that sets him apart. He explores truth in beautiful artifacts that cross boundaries, depicts traits not thought to coexist together, explores what is common to us all, may even explore ideas we have never admitted to ourselves.  Sadri joins literary and aesthetic qualities.  While his abstractions are open to interpretation.  I personally find it helpful

to note how his titles direct and focus attention.  And often my first impression may be re-directed a bit when I consider the title. For example, where does the light come from when there is “Light without Sun?”  Who was Lillith  and what is her contribution?  What is the essence of Touch?


As we experience art, our natural tendency is to evaluate, to like it, to not like it, to ponder what it “means.” Critique is never merely doubt but always a particular vantage, dependent on our assumptions, that determines in advance art’s credibility.  In other words, Sadri challenges us to get out of our cultural boxes the same challenge that deliberations in the UN take.   In fact, I have discovered in experiencing Sadri’s art, a great re-shaping of my own ideas of beauty and truth. Just as deIiberations at the UN engage people to explore the limits of their private contexts,  I like that fact that his art leads us to a freedom of the spirit that may draw us out of CULTURAL BLACK HOLES that may have limited us too much of a homogenizing nature.  Sadri challenges us to be open to innovations in both form and substance.  Here are some of my observations about 5 qualities that make him special.


1. The title of this exhibition is ORGANIC.  Sadri  strives to make his art organic in a number of ways.


It is organic, for example, in his use of 3 dimensional  paintings, a new development for him. however, he is organic also in in the fact that the substance deals with nature, the realities of people, the nature of people. And the ideas can be applied to many different levels: individuals , groups, or nations.  Try changing the focus on any one of the painting exhibited here. In the main, it is organic in that it reveals his nature.  He has told me that  the character of his work helps him in  his art of thinking.

Sadri is a storyteller, he believes that his art can be a metaphor for reality, and that stories and metaphors can be more powerful than linguistic explanations.  As a dreamer, his art is non-linear and is not subject to linear, structuralist taxonomies, the does strive to reveal realities as he sees them and urge us to consider them from alternative viewpoints.


Although Sadri has lived in Vienna most of his life, he grew up in Tehran, and he has told me that even he has been surprised at how much that historical non-linear world view has shaped his art.  His art, shaped by his dreams as well as his experiences in the east and west, has a telepathic sensitivity that convey emotions and feelings.  In that sense we viewers have our own familiar inner feelings stimulated by his art. Consequently, viewing Sadri’s art can also be a mystical experience as he explores organic complexities that surround us. Some of those complexities are peace-giving and serene; others capture the hard realities we experience. Both kinds of reality are put into aesthetic terms that stir our emotions and reflect our lives.


2. Sadri has developed his own unique brand of abstraction. First, what is immediately noticeable is the development of folds/ribbons as his alphabet. They are his visual language of form. They add colorful texture, but they also give an accelerated experience of movement through which one achieves, moment to moment, utterly fresh experiential terrain. Thus, Sadri becomes an evolutionary artist as the sense of movement opens viewers to ceaseless reflection. “The object of attention, love, or awe is never finally definitively placed, but is always serially consequent up an infinity of perspectives, allowing for (continuous) supplementation,”(Hart) Second, An important feature of the abstractions is how colors become symbolic for character and mood.


Note how he can take the same design with different hues of the same color in order to build a catenated story line Third, In terms of substance, the edges of the painting are never the end of the idea; the surface simply gives links to broader ideas and emotions. His abstract ideas permit infinite interpretations and appreciation that links “the far and near, absent and present, spiritual and material.” (hart) Abstractions are necessarily characterized by uncertainties, and uncertainty is certainly the fabric of the world. Consequently, Sadri is never explicit, and he refuses to tell viewers what a painting “means.” Because He has no interest in disinterested rationality or finite definition, he has the freedom to depict alternative ways of describing realities in religion, politics, personalities, or eroticism. What he represents is always connected to life—and feelings are at the core of his art. Because he knows that each of us perceives the world differently---that not only beauty but meaning is in the eye of the beholder---he stimulates us to explore his fantasies on our own terms and in our own contexts. Even he admits that when he sees his paintings he remembers the context in which he painted the, but he also often sees something new.


3. His art involves us in solving a mystery. And solving that mystery may depend on the filters and lens that we use. Viewed from space the earth looks pretty smooth, but as we travel on it we recognize just how rough the terrain can be. Things look different when we view them in a microscope, a telescope, or just plain eye level. If we overcome the desire to cut reality into crisp shapes, we realize that ’One cannot express in words what one feels with one’s eyes.” (Giacometti) Nevertheless, we try to make sense of what we see, and to make sense is always to make NEW sense (Soffer) p. 14. While he provides nuances that may focus on some overarching principle of reality, each painting has numerous levels for us to experience. What we see first may ultimately may eventually become subordinate as we perceive stimuli not easily recognized by first impressions. Thus, Sadri reallz encourages viewers to comtemplate what they see.


In other words, he provides us a veiled experience which our imaginations have to complete. Perhaps this is what Wittgenstein describes as the difference between “see that” versus “seeing as.” In this sense, Sadri’s artistic expression may be essentially dialogic.

The artist is not telling us but is inviting us to participate in his creation. In a sense, he poses the question: Is that reality or not?


4. Sadri combines idea and emotion in the same way that musical composers use color and tone to create an inner mood, an inner reality. As in listening to great music, only the artist concentrates on individual notes. Most of us listen to the unfolding musical context. Similarly, Sadri invites us to reflect, not on the details, but on the development of a context. Sadri paints on metaphoric surface which make it manifest in its particularly but true beauty comes when one reflects on more than its particularly. There is an abstract depth. The effect is musical, not dialectical.


5. It is the emotional idea that drives him. And emotions often reflect the sensual. Many have commented on the sensuality and subtle eroticism of his art. And he often has a body part, face or beautiful bodies in action as he does in Touch, Lilith, and Expression. They often are not all that explicit, but they play an important role in the painting. Viewed as representations of the human condition in a multiplicity of states; however, I think his sensuality seems very reflective of life itself. What I have described tonight is an artist of extraordinary artistic refinement.


Therefore, let me encourage you to enjoy the exhibition. And then look forward to viewing much more of his art than is exhibited here. And let’s congratulate our artist who brings much joy to us.


Mehrdad Sadri


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