About Art Work
A single word has inspired a major part of Parviz Tanavoli’s career, especially his free-standing sculptures. Consisted of only three letters in Persian script, “Heech” (nothing) represents for the artist a sort of contradiction in the past or assimilation in an unpleasant present time. He regards it as a reaction to his surrounding environment: “The university curriculum and methods to which I didn’t believe, the artists who were ceaselessly advocating Western novelties, or the aristocrats who consumed Western second-hand commodities, all provoked a defiant reaction, Heech being the voice of this defiance.”
What intensified Tanavoli’s passion for Heech was Iranian mystic tradition and Sufism. Also, as he himself states, the written form of the word is highly suggestive of human figure. Although the word implies dimness and despair, The Heech sculptures are on the contrary cheery and joyful. Represented in various poses, standing or sitting, these sensual and eloquent figures characterize the plastic qualities of Iranian calligraphy. They appear curious and interrogative, and though sometimes portrayed in a cage, they seem in peace with the situation rather than being trapped or imprisoned. In fact, they fly away the cage with serene poetical dignity. This efficient anthropomorphic form were Tanavoli’s comment on formal embellishments and exaggerations common in calligraphy practice of the time, especially found in the works of the artists associated with local Saqqa-Khaneh movement. More significantly, Tanavoli was examining the formal, aesthetic and narrative potentials of this simple form, as he did for his popular elements like locks, braziers and nightingales.
Fascinating and flexible, Heech in Tanavoli’s hands is everything rather than nothing. From structural view, this might be one of the most artistic and aesthetically significant words ever made out of three Farsi alphabets, making it apt for a sculptor to realize in three dimensions. An insightful sculptor, knowledgeable and skillful in casting and modeling, Tanavoli has artistically used the visual character of the word. He once said: “If there was not such an astonishing resemblance between Heech and the human figure, I wouldn’t dream up making it.”