The practice of Iranian painter Ramtin Zad can be deconstructed into three words: dreams, discovery and experience.
The sensorial experience of a Zad work is dominated by its fleshy, richly hued and debaucherous qualities where his thick, painterly strokes allow the works to leap from their two-dimensional realities into a seemingly three-dimensional plane. Depictions of flora and fauna are intermingled with anthropomorphic forms, who are wrapped up in each other themselves, as Zad plays with perspective to create intricate and masochistically claustrophobic compositions that reveal a new detail each time the eye encircles the canvas. His ‘more is more’ mentality may appear a visual cacophony, but there is poetry to the madness.
From pop culture to Iranian heritage, the plethora of visual references that pepper Zad’s paintings come directly from his reliance upon his unconscious and action/automatic painting process. He approaches a canvas the way one enters the mist – engaging instinct, or his ‘lizard brain’, to navigate the complex network of thoughts and dissonant sounds that run through his head that are tempered only by his complete willingness to be spontaneous. “First I concentrate, then comes anger and finally, the discovery phase,” he explains of how he tackles his works. The resulting phantasmagoric imagery, simultaneously imbued with and devoid of narrative, can be read as whimsical dreams, recalling elements of Georg Baselitz, or unsettling nightmares, harking back to Francisco Goya’s darkened panels – it merely depends to which schema Zad’s paintings speak.
Zad’s personalised artistic universe possesses a freshness and cheek that emphasizes his ability to merge heritage with contemporary elements, and skill in testing the limits of Boschian influences while maintaining enough restraint to let the viewer finish the picture. Drawing inspiration from deep within his unconscious and organizing it with his own visual language, the aesthetic tension the viewer is confronted with leaves them with one simple choice: how to end a story which hasn’t yet begun?
RAMTIN ZAD solo exhibition presents the unified collections of Ramtin Zad works from the Salsali Private Museum (SPM) and renowned collector Farhad Bakhtiar as part of SPM’s initiative to be a collector’s collective.