Khosrow Hassanzadeh is one of the most important modern painters to emerge in Iran during the last two decades. Hassanzadeh’s strength as an artist Iles in the raw sincerity with which he approaches his work. He observes the world around him and tests these observations against the reality of his own experiences. He then transfers the results of this mixing and testing to his paintings. It is the honesty and courage with which Khosrow shares this process and himself in his paintings that render him a great artist.
For Hassanzadeh, the world begins first and foremost with the traditions and the realities of his immediate surroundings. Yet his work encompasses global human themes. Hassanzadeh manages this transition from local to global without every denying or running away from his roots. Rather, he surrenders himself to his roots, thus tapping into a rich source of common human experiences —compassion, kindness, cruelty and anger — and demands that the world stand up and take notice of that which is real. The central drive of Hassanzadeh’s expansive work has been his refusal to allow the world to turn its back on truth and the full range of human experience.
At first glance, the periods of Hassanzadeh’s work may seem unrelated and disparate. However, there is a very basic and common underlying theme that gently yet eloquently ties his work together: that nothing matters in this world other than bringing to life the forgotten legends and fables of our culture that exemplify greatness, kindness and humanity. To rebuild these lost myths and find a central place for them once again as a source of inspiration and guidance is the theme of Hassanzadeh’s work. Examples include his paintings of war martyrs in their death shrouds, of dignified yet sorrowful mothers, of wives left behind, of murdered women, of simple and honourable families that have, through a most shocking and unexpected turn of events, lost all that they held as real and unchanging.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Hassanzadeh’s work is his attempt to point out and recreate the lost ideals and values of society. He does this through work that is not only honest and bold in content but also overwhelming in size. He captures the eyes and the attention of his audience, refusing to let them simply gloss over a reality that can often be too painful to accept. A good example can be found in the Chador series, which came about at the dawn of the new millennium when the Western fascination with the veil reached a new peak. After having been the symbol of the exotic and mysterious Oriental woman for centuries, the veil now became tantamount to Middle Eastern backwardness, symbolized by the oppression of its women.
With Chador, Hassanzadeh aims to counterbalance the Western image of the veil by presenting a beautified and decidedly positive outlook on the chador, the all-encompassing garment traditionally worn by Iranian women. While the traditional veil is black, the chadors he imagines are colourful and patterned, representing a new and fashionable look. Ashraf, the artist’s wife, along with his other female relatives and friends, served as models for the paintings in this series. Hassanzadeh took the patterns with which their garments are adorned from wallpaper in his family home as a subtle reminder of the domestic role to which women in this household are confined. By doing so, the Chador series appeals to the Orientalist image of the mysterious and subjugated Muslim woman but also twists it around.
Hassanzadeh’s adventurous and somewhat itinerant approach to life and work, combined with the uncompromising, strong nature of his character, has allowed him to explode rather quickly onto the global art world as a prominent artist. Hassanzadeh has travelled an arduous road. He has come from humble and simple beginnings and, by refusing to bow to modern conventions and limitations, has forced us to open our eyes to the harsher realities of the been happy to world: realities that we have ignore for a long time. He refuses to let us get away with the simple explanations, characterizations and categorizations that we use to shield ourselves from the injustices and ugliness of the world.
One cannot escape the truth of Hassanzadeh’s works. His works beckon to us in content, in texture and in size. They demand that we pay attention. We are changed by them, and we carry them with us, for their message is toopowerful to let go of easily.