The Unfinished Paintings of Hessam Abrishami

Arts & Culture

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY OCT 9, 2020

Iranian-born international artist Hessam Abrishami comes to Chasen Galleries Sarasota tomorrow for a pair of events celebrating the opening of a new exhibition of his work. Curated over the last five months, the selected works offer examples of a wide variety of this abstract expressionist’s artistic output, ranging from large-scale displays to diminutive vignettes, achromatic black and white musings to explosions of vivid color, abstract to figurative, and even some prints thrown in. But if you were to ask Abrishami, every single one is unfinished.

Restless in his bones, Abrishami exists in an eternal search for inspiration that has taken him from Iran to Italy to California and now to Florida, with myriad detours and tangents along the way, and no plan on stopping. “I need new ideas,” he admits with a guilty laugh. “I need new atmosphere.” And in his experience, the quest for adventure and constant movement has only led to more paintings and better paintings. That’s when the work just pours out of him.

“My best painting is when I can paint it fast,” Abrishami says. “Because I don’t think about it, I feel it—whatever comes into my mind I put onto the canvas.” There are no preliminary sketches or grids or plans in that moment, just a transfer of emotion from the artist to the page through the medium of the moment. “I grab a color, put it on the canvas and play,” he says. “I play with the color—up and down, this way and that way—to see what I want to capture.” 

Most of the time, that means grand colorful scenes full of movement and volume and a vitality that celebrates the human condition. “This is my dream,” the artist says. “I would like life to be like this—enjoyable, with music, dancing, loving and full of color.” But sometimes Abrishami is angry. Sometimes the world around him becomes too much and the news of the day leaves him sad and depressed. Then he paints in black. “Just one color,” he says, his voice dropping to a whisper. “That’s the reality.”

But it’s never the end. The painting is never the end because the painting is never finished. Working in the abstract, there is no finish line. No final detail or correction to complete the exactitude. Abrishami builds his canvas worlds of line and color and composition and then abandons them to his audience, incomplete and leaving a void the viewer becomes compelled to fill with their own impression. “They finish my painting,” he says. “They can see new ideas, new forms, new colors. They finish it.”

For those interested in hearing more from the artist, Chasen Galleries will be hosting a Facebook Live event from 3pm to 4pm tomorrow, followed by a limited opening reception at the gallery from 4pm to 6pm. RSVP required for both events.

Click here for more information.

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