I SAW A BROKEN LABYRINTH

Timo Nasseri 13 Oct 2017 - 23 Nov 2017

Ab-Anbar gallery is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of artworks by Timo Nasseri in Tehran. In this show some of the artist’s sculptures and sketches, from a variety of periods in his career, will be presented.

Born in Berlin in 1972, to a German mother and an Iranian father, Timo Nasseri studied Photography at Lette-Verein Institute. Primarily, he was drawn to people’s portraiture, however, for his graduation project he opted for medical photography and documenting surgical procedures. At night, in glass chambers overlooking surgeries he would photograph the operation, different parts of body, red of blood, green gowns of surgeons, white surgical gloves, surgical instruments, sterile pieces of cloth and etc. After graduation, he resorted to advertising and fashion photography, though the consumerist quality and temporality of the genre did not appeal to him. He had originally chosen photography as a form of art, and to him, photography as a service was a waste of time and energy. Consequently, he started working as a freelancer and accepted commissions to photograph and document the works of humanitarian and non-governmental organizations throughout the world. Despite the challenges, after a period he chose to focus on art.

Second Persian Gulf War directed his attention to war equipment and military machinery. In order to gather more information, Timo spent time visiting Air Force Shows and military museums and thoroughly studied war artillery and equipment. Contrasting their lethal and evil function, elegant and flawless appearance of the warfare allured him. This investigation resulted in his first exhibition consisting of close-up photos of warplanes. He found the naming of American helicopters, such as Apache and Comanche, after some Native American tribes quite interesting, and inspired by that he created a few artworks decorated with enormous amount of birds’ feathers. Apart from being a direct reference to Native American headdress and their costumes, feathers were to hide the deadly aspect of the helicopters. Another inspiration was the names of rockets and defence military systems in his paternal homeland, Iran. Meteor, Thunder, Lightning, Dawn, Twilight, Simurgh and… are all poetic words whose meanings are of great importance to Farsi speaking audience, and therefore, he used Farsi letters to produce these series of artworks which are often massive and highly polished.

Observation of Farsi alphabet gradually concerned him about the subtleties of Islamic art and culture. Moreover, his journey to Iran in 1997 made him curious to understand the relations among geometrical forms, namely Muqarnas, in Islamic architecture. In Iranian architecture, muqarnas forms can usually be found in overdoors and ceiling decorations and to the architects they symbolize stars and the sky. Timo’s Muqarnas artworks, however, are not a precise imitation of the former; they are placed on walls rather than ceilings, made of steel rather than tiles and mirrors and their reflective structure and quality, apart from being decorative, challenge the perspective and viewpoint of the audience.

“One and One” is a collection of Timo’s drawings and an on-going project since 2008, using a ruler and a compass with white ink on black paper. These works are based on the construction of Muqarnas, following a geometrical order which is capable of growing in all directions and to extend into the eternity. These designs are arranged using a specific geometry wherein a compilation of triangles through a particular rhythm results in formation of a decorative array with a never-ending possibility to integrate and expand.

“Spheres” and “Parsec” are the next step into Timo’s body of work and though still inspired by the Muqarnas, their rough and unpolished surfaces bear strong resemblance to both the earth and galaxies. From an angle they resemble crystals from within the earth, whereas from another they look as if they have just fallen from the sky. 

Another part of Timo’s works are small drawings which appear to be quite similar to drawings of mathematical and geometrical regulations and patterns. While observing these, we are able to read numbers or recognize forms of some patterns, although incapable of coming up with the ultimate reading. Through his sketches, Timo questions legibility and deals with the issue that the concept which every sign and pattern stands for can vary due to the audience and the context.

Theories and findings of Jacob Steiner, the Swiss mathematician, are source of inspiration to another series of Timo’s sculptures. Steiner, founder of Modern Synthetic Geometry, was able to explain numerous fundamental concepts in regard to Projective Geometry and attempted to solve geometrical matters through drawing. In most of his geometric pieces, one of the main challenges for Timo Nasseri is to perceive changes and variations of a two-dimensional structure through adding a third dimension, or subtracting the third dimension from a structure.

Along his body of work, Timo opts for a column-shaped jumble of copper wires assembled with joints in his next series of sculptures “Drill Cores”. Disarray of lines, contrasting the order typical of his former works, is what initially catches the spectator’s eyes. However, observing them more thoroughly permeates the idea that they are, perhaps, parts of celestial bodies, and being removed from their original context is an impediment to a proper reading of the order in which they have been produced.

Timo Nasseri is an heir to both German rationalism and oriental mysticism. Influenced by a diverse range of philosophers, mystics, scholars, astronomers, mathematicians and scientists such as Ibn- Muqla, Jorge Luis Borges and Steiner, and in tandem with tendency towards minimalism, through utilizing memories and diaries, decorations and arrays, global mathematical and geometrical patterns, religious accounts, philosophical references, astronomy and Islamic architecture he attempts to include the essence of cultural heritages of both east and west in his body of work.