January 20, 2011
July 7, 2009
Paramount in her life and her art is her faith in the unity of an all-embracing divinity and universal human values. Working with many layers of thin paint, her brush produces fluid shapes of joyful dancers set against abstract patterns.
In her paintings Arastu brings Arabic Calligraphy into dialogue with Western Modern art movements like Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting. Her use of thin washes of acrylic, geometric patterns and other elements result in a sense of deep mystery and profound color.
Arastu’s flowing lines stem from the influence of Persian culture on Islamic script while her concentric compositions reflect rotating Indian mandalas as symbols of the universe.
Arastu’s art, with its joyous but generalized dancers (Sufi dervishes?), jewel-like colors and rich, layered textures, embraces the collective pursuit of union with the divine, which she sees in ecumenical, inclusive, non-sectarian terms.
She successfully melds traditional design motifs, contemporary abstraction, and the most exquisite calligraphy into works that can speak to anyone willing to listen and see. So I learn from Salma’s artful prayers.
Salma Arastu is blessed with a fluent and lyrical visual language.
If these paintings attain their liveliness through a rubbing together of opposites at a conceptual level, a potent dynamism also operates within each composition in Arastu’s painterly style. It is the mark of Arastu’s personal absorption of the stories she recasts.
It is interesting, however, that the most recent work, structured to explore the contemporary artistic idiom, clearly displays elements encoded in the style of Indian miniatures. And indeed the works which recall this tradition are among the artist’s strongest pieces.
This work, very much like Pablo Piccaso’s Guernica, captures the phenomenon and horror of people unwittingly caught in an inexplicable tragedy and by inescapable peril. What I find most remarkable about this artist’s work is what seems to be her attempt at a continuous line. As this canvas unwinds she carries us across in a sweep of pictorial action.