BahmanMohasses’sstill-life collection marks one of the most important periods in his career. Even though the still-life is well represented in modern Western art in styles such as impressionism and cubism, we do not see its serious or influential presence in modern Iranian art. It is for this reason that Mohasses’s still-lifes and his process of developing this genre should receive the praise and recognition they deserve in the evolution of Iranian art, given that Mohasses inspired and influenced many Iranian artists in this regard. In this collection, both explicitly and surreptitiously, there are clear signs of his connection to his place of birth andit is evident that his early emigration to distant lands is also reflected in his mindset. The color spectrum in these works runs from blue, purple and green to grey. The sea and its depth are metaphors that speak to the long years of silence and introspection that the artist endured. Mohasses was born in Gilan on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea and emigrated to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Italy. This trajectory had a profound influence on his art. His representations of the sea and, at times, his distinct use of Mediterranean mythology as subject matter, confer upon his work a philosophical symbolism which is rooted without a doubt in his emigration.
In the semiotics of most countries, especially those who share a similar climate to the placesMohasseslived, the fish is a symbol of salvation, life, birth and mother Earth. In these works, the fish is positioned next to cloves of garlic and what seems to be an empty bottle. The artist’s personal rendering of the composition and his unusual use of color and form convey upon the work a freshness that allows the viewer to take in immediately this juxtaposition of subject matter. In this work we clearly see that,in both his choice and his rendition of subject matter, Mohasses follows a distinct path, mapped out for him by his idiosyncratic mindset. References to water and the sea pulsate, offering a steady flow of implications regarding natureand existence. When we notice that the fish and garlic appear to be dried out and withered (for perhapsmillennia) and that the bottle has seen better days,countless questions arise regarding contemporary man’s struggle within the realms of nature and existence.
The sea is inseparable from Mohasses’s subconscious and his world view. The connection of sea and shore are integral to his compositions. In this painting we observe that the outlines, both in the foreground and background, accentuate this symbolic association of land and water. The fish we see here lying on the sand are rendered in cold earth tones. They have been transformed into icons and souvenirs that, more than anything, bring to mind man’s struggle with nature. In fact, BahmanMohasses, by using these colors and this rough, thick texture most often applied with wide brushes, elucidates his inquisitive stance on reality and existence with a symbolism that is both shocking and compelling.