SÉPÀND DANESH / ME, MY EAGLE AND MY SNAKE
BACKSLASH Gallery, Paris
12 March – 18 April, 2020
The Persian word konj-kav means “curious” (literally “digging into corners”). Sépànd Danesh has been digging into corners for nearly a decade now, giving them painted form with the vertical junction of two walls meeting, floor-less and ceiling-less. In his new exhibition at Backslash, the motifs that previously adorned his corners have given way to curious characters whose mindsets and moods we feel we recognise and sense. His figures are made up of identical fragments (tiny three-dimensional pixels), bringing to mind a poem by 13th-century Persian poet Saadi:
All human beings are in truth akin.
All in creation share one origin.
When fate allots a member pangs and pains,
No ease for other members then remains.
If, unperturbed, another’s grief canst scan,
Thou are not worthy of the name of man.
This cube-based stylized technique can be compared to the artistic experiments of Pointillist painters in the early 20th century: when a pointillist painting is observed from a certain distance, the coloured dots are impossible to tell apart, creating the optical effect of blending into each other. The same principle was adopted years later to create the digital raster image with the pixel as its base unit, its smallest element. Sépànd Danesh takes us into the world of the infinitely small, with the pixellation of the figures, as well as the infinitely large, with the universalisation of human emotions.
The artist explains his approach: “In my work, I try to tackle the question (…) by using the pixel in its oncological form, as an object for reflection devising ever-new combinations and variations.”
For his third exhibition at Backslash, Sépànd Danesh is turning the corner into an open book, proposing a fresh interpretation of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Me, my eagle and my snake narrates the adventures of a lone traveller, perched atop the mountains of enchantment, who sees all life as an eternal recurrence and metamorphosis. The love felt by this traveller, half-animal, half-superhuman, for bleak and barren nature makes the eagle and the snake ideal companions. The eagle is proud and the snake is crafty. The eagle is sharp-eyed, defies gravity and dwells among the highest peaks. The snake delivers the kiss of death, changes skin and is acquainted with the entrails of the earth.
Sépànd Danesh thoroughly dissects the figures he presents and, more specifically, the attitudes and emotions of human beings in general. The exhibition is constructed like the genome sequence of individuals along with their quirks and feelings. Sculptures and paintings are populated with strange characters in positions that are easily identifiable, conveying as they do an array of human sentiments.