Globalisation and visual language

An interview with “Ali Vazirian” in a feature on Iranian graphic design for the A2 Arts and Culture section of The Age newspaper in Melbourne by “Dan Rule”.This discussion is relevant to be released a selection of graphic works by Vazirian in Melbourne Australia.

Dan Rule: Your work seems to have less of a Western influence or aesthetic than some of your Iranian contemporaries; it seems to have more of a distinctly Iranian flavour and feel…
Would you agree?
Ali Vazirian: I will be glad if such characteristics can be found in my works, But I must say that this Iranian taste and this kind of Aesthetic that you pointed to ,is present mainly because I live  in an atmosphere of a civilization and culture that I belong to it. So it is natural that some parts of my inner world reflect in my works. In fact, I have never tried to make my works purely Iranian. This happens in the inner of the artist and relates to the way of his/her life and also his philosophical look to the world around him. Being interested in a culture is far different to live on manners and customs of that culture. political personalities can keep their thoughts hide from people, say something and do something else , but the artist cannot act this way as Basically art of every single artists would depicts his world of opinion and believes.

DR: What are your chief influences?
AV: Now there’s nothing. My works takes form spontaneously and based on studies and visual experience of my former. But in the past, I affected by many things .From Iranian traditional paintings (Persian painting) with pure colors and full of masterly portrait atmospheres of Gustav Kilimet and Henri Matisse and even Georges Rouault. I cannot really talk about just a specific one. But to tell the truth, what affected me more than anything and has affected the creation of my works was part of Iranian Poem and literature that is full of allegory and scenography. An inspiring treasure which never ends.

DR: Do you draw any direct inspiration from Western graphic design?
AV:Inspiration happens at the beginning or at least in my case have been so.

DR: Do you also strive to transcend national boundaries? Would you like your work to be read and understood in an international setting?
AV:Understanding of an artist works in international level is a privilege that is consistent with the essence of art. Graphic works are not created to be confined to stay in geographical bounderies or a single room. These works created to transfer the concept that designer bear in his/her mind, for being observed, for make a connection to people, so its natural that more audiences make the artist happier.

DR: Notions of globalisation possess a dominantly Western slant and could be accused of eroding cultural differences and differences in visual language.
Should artists always be aware of their own culture and where they come from?
AV: The artist job His is awareness to his native culture and protection of it. We must not ignore the fact that the global movement in the meantime is irresistible and indivisible. Globalization is attainable by uniformity of the ways of behavior .But it needs the plurality which reflects in variety of ways: national identity, ethnic identity, religious identity. A culture with spirit of invention seems fearless of the concept of globalization.

DR: Is the idea of a universal visual language detrimental to the art of specific countries?
AV: The graphic art belongs to The public not to elites who owned private museums and galleries as their resort. So the artist needs a language to reach to a wide spectrum of people with different cultures who are able to understand and communicate with it. Accessing such a language you can show the indisputable features of your visual art without ignoring the positive dimensions of other cultures. For example, I can mention a Poster which I designed for a film festival in Italy a year ago.

DR: Do you see Iranian graphic design as a point of resistance?
AV: There is no resistance, I don’t know why the word is used as usually the word” resist “ being used in situations like the invasion and occupation and in the field of the world graphic I don’t believe in any invasion. Graphic designers with the showing a part of their visual culture can have a part in globalization of graphic designing. Iranian graphic design is the of Iranian culture in the global culture. Any claim as the resistance of Iranian graphic against its western counterpart is not more than just a slogan. We should not forget that one of the prerequisites of globalization is about the concept of relation, with rhizomatique identity, and to accept each other with mutual valuation. Cultural relationship is no exception.DR: What do you feel makes Iranian graphic design unique?
AV: Every single one of Iranian designers is presenting some specific sight of Iranian visual culture in their works, but specifically using traditional reliefs and Persian letters distinguishes Iranian cultures from others.

DR: Calligraphy and typography seem to hold much more of a significance to Iranian design than their Latin counterparts in the West …
Would you agree?
AV: I absolutely agree.

DR: Tell me about the significance of calligraphy and typography. They seem to play a prevalent role in your work….
AV: Basically, Iranian culture roots in religion which the miracle of his prophet, “Quran”, is a divine book. It means God speaks to their servants by words. Therefore writing its words and letters, especially calligraphy, find a special place in Iranian culture. Using Farsi letters and calligraphy rooted back before the revolution in 1979, but the Iranian artists’ inclination toward it has been increased. Anyhow I reject your emphasis that my works are dominated by calligraphy. This is only the characteristic of some of my works. Although I believe that using words and writing words give an indigenous identity toward the works, it may cause an ambiguity for an audience who doesn’t know the Farsi language, and cannot understand their meaning. And it is opposite of the identity of graphics. So because of this I believe that using of visual elements in graphic works is far more important.

DR: What effect do you feel the Islamic revolution of 1979 had on Iranian visual culture?
AV: The effect of Iranian revolution was rather in content than form just like what happened in cinema, but in the field of graphics, it made the artists focused more in their own roots of visual culture which is specifically distinguished from other Islamic nations.

DR: Do you feel that creating art in autocratic political situations has influenced your work in a particular way?
AV: I consider the field of culture premier to caduceus politics and acrobats politicians and always tried to keep the distance. Thus it cannot shadow my works.

DR:Tell me about your earliest influences to become an artist…
AV: In fact, I Haven’t gone after the art, whole my life the art have been my companion.

DR: What inspires you today?
AV: It is a while I am in the least work in graphic design and painting, because I have to spend a plenty of time on Filmmaking and literature and novel calls me more than ever.

DR: What should good graphic design do at a fundamental level?
AV: Seeking for an independent visual language to establish communication and transfer the messages without any need to use language .Plenty of visual studies on distinct international graphic works, reading poetry and novels, listening to music and….

From Tehran with love & Idea Books

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