The Drawers - Mahmoud Meraji   Commentary  by Julie Oakes for Summer Guest Curator, Pooyan Tabatabaei

 exhibitions in the drawers in the gallery commentaries artists catalogs contact

Six Weeks Of Iranian Art

I had noticed a modernist trend in Mahmoud Merhaji's work, an insistence on creating a new reality despite his obvious adeptness at portraiture and realistic depiction. The super realism associated with the pop movement (Chuck Close), and then with the recent New German Painters has taken realistic depiction back into vogue. This could have been an expected progression in Mahmoud Meraji's work - to continue, with such a strong hand, his portraiture. Yet he insisted on making steps forward into the unknown, into modernism.

There is an old world craftsmanship in Mahmoud Meraji's unique visions. He has the hand of a fine drawer that can lay rightful claim to the glory of admiration at his talent and ability to depict. He uses his technical ability to support a far more inaccessible narrative. Like the story-line of dreams where the connections are hard to make but the sense is embedded in the memorable impact of the visual, so his figures and their situations veer away from logic to enter a more instinctual realm. He uses a vocabulary of images that seem to possess romantic underpinnings.

The work is subtle and classy, intellectual and yet fresh. His use of colors illustrates his taste, it is never too much, sparingly doled out to accentuate the detailed rendering. Mahmoud uses repetition in a symphonic sense, subverting rhythms in favour of a melody that forms agreeable successions and arrangements of shapes and movements. It is a classical melody with attention to form lending a general effect of balance while the emotions are distant and collected. Mahmoud Meraji is graceful in his depiction. He is discrete with a gentleman's manners. And because of these layers of meanings, not quite revealed, but refined and cultured, the work touches the finer aspects of our own connoisseurship. It invites us into the Meraji realm, one of good breeding where the origins of drawing are accomplished and can thus enter into higher conversations.

If the iconography is not always clear, it is because there is a learning process in place and Meraji is teaching us how to see his world as he offers a respite from the clarion perspective of contemporary depersonalization.

Copyright 2007,  Julie Oakes