iran | singapore
For almost three decades now, Ali Esmaeilipour has been inviting you into his inner realm by means of his canvas. Personal objects, rendered in a realistic yet lyrical manner, are often the focus of his paintings. For that reason his work is often categorized as “still life” but this remains a label Ali particularly dislikes. Objects are the principal players in Ali’s paintings because they are visual representations of a thought or a sentiment, and their combination enables Ali to create both an emotional depth and a sense of time that is almost tangible to the beholder.
There is very little of the “nature morte” in these visual windows into the artist’s soul. Instead, each painting is a snapshot of a life in movement, a way to freeze a moment long enough to share it before it is irrevocably lost. Ali’s journey started in Tehran, where he studied at the renowned Zangar Art Institute under the tutelage of Professor Aydin Aghdashlou, one of Iran’s most respected artists.
His rise within the art circles was swift, and following numerous group exhibitions and four successful solo exhibitions he rapidly became a recognised artist in his native land. His success was sealed when he subsequently won the prestigious 4th Biennale at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran. When the opportunity to establish himself as an artist in Singapore arose in 1999, Ali took flight. “My intention is not to paint beauty” explains Ali. The objects present in his paintings are not chosen for aesthetic purposes, nor does Ali seek to artificially produce a harmonious composition. Often Ali is simply transposing a complete image that has sprung to his mind to the canvas. For Ali, painting is an entirely organic process, his hand paints before his mind analyses.
Ali naturally captures on his canvas is connection: the connection that pre-exists between him and the objects he lives with and the connection that is born between the artist and the viewer. Each of these objects, which become the living ‘subjects’ of the paintings, hold a special significance for Ali, each has accompanied him on his life’s journey and each holds a unique relationship to the artist. By juxtaposing objects that belong to the past with objects that he currently lives with, Ali is able to add the dimension of time to his paintings, re-creating the movement of his personal history. And yet time does not stop, and Ali’s eagerness to live the next moment can be felt by his frequent incorporation of whimsical “subjects” from his yet-to-be future. Living in Singapore has influenced both subject and form of Ali’s paintings. In particular, Ali’s ‘Reflection’ paintings are directly inspired by the changing landscape of the city during the wet monsoon season. This collection, which portrays the outside world through watery reflections, is a distinctive departure from the intimate indoor scenes that have become Ali’s trademark. Yet these reflected scenes speak as eloquently as the “poetry realism” in the artist’s previous work of the precarious and transient nature of each passing moment. More remarkable perhaps is the impact living in Singapore has had on the form of Ali’s work. The dynamic, modern and cosmopolitan character of Singapore calls for a new energy to match it. The continual movement of Singapore imposes the need for the artist to be in constant exploration. It was a natural move for Ali to find a new language to communicate with new viewers. By shifting from his traditionally acrylic interpretations to a more contemporary use of mixed-media, Ali successfully captured the vitality of Singapore into his newest paintings, building bridges to an ever changing audience.