Experimenting with abstract painting, Iranian contemporary painter, Bita Vakili began to create meaningful forms and, sometimes, wavering figures in her work in the 2000s. A major work of the artist included in this catalog shows a transitional period of experimentation.
A cursory look at the early period of Vakili’s work provides some information on the motives behind creating the present work. Fluidity of paint in the background intensifies the explosive and glittering quality of the work. She applies thick layers of mixed bright paint to emphasize the physicality of the subject and enhances the strength of her work by choosing large canvases. It seems that the balance achieved through colored layers and large dimensions ultimately facilitates nebular, downward viewpoint of the work.
Some contemporary painters reveal the spirit and image of Iran by representing Iran’s flag and its symbolic colors, exploiting either a quasi-kitsch approach or an expressive mode close to Post-Pop Art movements. Bita Vakili, however, disengaging herself from conventional Iranian trends, offers a philosophic expression by projecting Iran’s map out of a colored background. Splendor of Iran added to her visual metaphors complements her nebulous perspective, and through conceptual counterstatements, imposes either a contemporary nationalism or conflicting political interpretations upon the work to accommodate opposing perspectives.
This painting is an heir to Vakili’s embryos of the past works. Offering a dualism in her interpretation of the concept of mother, both as a symbol of woman and a metaphor for homeland, Vakili continues to work on this challenging concept to reach a different interpretation of the work in new circumstances. On the one hand, a fetus is resting inside the homeland, and on the other, center of the picture is invaded by a large number of high-rise buildings, highlighting her concern for the condition of contemporary man.
Materiality, quality of paint, and background are of huge magnitude in Vakili’s paintings. Hence, her work tends to go beyond an ordinary flat picture, offering a three-dimensional touch. In addition to focusing on a third dimension and quality of paint, Vakili uses metal objects to produce collages on canvases. Objects such as screws, nuts, staples, spangles, metal powder, and other odds and ends are seen in this work, which seems quite different from works of the period when paint was her only vehicle to depict the integrity of the world she had in mind. Strong emphasis of Vakili’s collages on visual quality of the work produces a shocking and thought-provoking effect in spectators.
Cities are the best indicators of the circumstances of the time; beguiling cities that turn into a symbol of American Pop Art with an admiring tone in one period, are challenged by various media of contemporary art in another. Identity and ecological pointers in this work visually express the artist’s drive for creation. Metropolitan cities with high-rise buildings – symbols of development and modern life – on the one hand, and special attention of the artist to Earth and environmental hazards resulting from this development and estrangement, on the other, raise fundamental questions in the mind of spectators. Indeed, this is what brings New York, Dubai and Tehran closer together – just like contemporary art does.
Bita Vakili’s works make use of a contemporary visual language to achieve an expression beyond the borders of her homeland. Her recent success in domestic as well as international markets is signaling the birth of a fresh movement in Iranian contemporary visual expression. It seems this is just the beginning of a path that can lead to a different destination.