In a layering of styles and content, east and west, Iran and America, past and present, Farsad Labbauf has used imagery from his youth in Iran combined with iconic imagery from mass media and commercialism in America to comment on global economics and society. Speaking about his paintings at Blank Space Gallery, in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, in his solo show, “From My East to Your West,” he emphasized the constant bombardment of images from western entertainment media: television, comic books and toys while being exposed to Persian arts including calligraphy, Persian miniature painting, tile works and poetry.
Resultantly, he has merged these images in his paintings. He comes from a background of sewing, so that stitchery is translated in his work to a series of lines ranging from the thinness of threads to thicker lines on the canvas, comprising faces, figures, backgrounds, much as Vincent van Gogh did in his interiors and self-portrait. He spoke of painting consumption, whether of oil in our modern world, or food resulting in waste matter being expelled, philosophy including monism and unity, or history in the story of Shirin or the myth of Batman; read and taken in, and then expelled into the world, illustrated in his paintings, completing a cycle.
In “Oh Sweet Bitter World” (2016), his sense of humor or sarcasm prevails in the juxtaposition of Kim Jon Un who threatened nuclear war with the image of Bugs Bunny, infamous for the line “Of course, you know this means war,” or in “The Unwritten History of Stains” where the can of Ajax references the name of a Persian god and the 1953 AJAX CIA operation that removed Iran’s Prime Minister, but is here a can of detergent that removes stains.
Farsad Labbauf is not only merging images, but merging cultural symbols, in a succession of linear borders weaving in and out, crossing and canceling each other out, in a symphony of cultural codes.
“From My East to Your West,” at Blank Space Gallery, 30 Gansevoort Street, New York, is open daily until October 28.