Afshan Daneshvar | "Boats Series": Dastan's Basement

24 November - 8 December 2017 The Basement

Dastan is pleased to announce the opening of Afshan Daneshvar’s solo exhibition titled “Boats Series”, curated by Fereydoun Ave, at Dastan’s Basement. The exhibition will be open for public viewing from November 24 through December 8, 2017. This is Afshan Daneshvar’s first solo exhibition at Dastan’s Basement. Her work has been featured in three solo exhibitions in Tehran and over ten group shows.
Afshan Daneshvar (b. 1972, Tehran, Iran) is a Dubai-based Iranian visual artist. As a child she grew up with her calligrapher father who was always busy with writing and creating. Persian calligraphy was a profound influence over her. She started her artistic career using calligraphy in both her designs and her art. Her meditative work is based on repetition, inspired by Siah-mashgh in Persian calligraphy. In Siah-mashgh words and letters are repeated regardless of meaning for the sake of perfection. She explains: "The repetition of saying a word like a Dhikr in Sufism has the same function of writing it till eternity. Both are meditative and you feel that you lose the meaning and the form after a while."
In her recent paper works (“Nafas” and “Boats” series), she has used repetition as her main theme. During the past two years, Afshan Daneshvar has used paper as her main material in artistic creations. She meticulously creates structures that appear minimalist from far, but are in fact much detailed yet monochromatic (black on black, white on white), or with small color differences. Her “sculptural*” works in “Boats” series, have been created by putting together many small paper boats. Explaining her process, the artist says: “The very first idea started with making an origami boat by folding a 3x5 cm piece of tracing paper 14 times. The result was a 1 cm long small delicate boat. By putting together thousands of paper boats, I created a dense pattern —the individual boats cannot be easily seen anymore. The first piece in the series included two thousand white boats.”
Work on “Boats” series began two years ago. In this series, ‘boat’ comes as a metaphorical/allegorical element, alluding to the process of life, moving, suspension and thought. Afshan Daneshvar continues: “In making these pieces, patience, observation, and contemplation were key. The monochromatic patterns, which both invite to be viewed and represent suspension, are the result of such view.”


* Wallace-Thompson, Anna. “Fearless: The Next Wave of Artists from Iran”. Art Asia Pacific. Hong Kong: July/August 2016.


Artist Statement

I wrote, re-wrote, and repeated each word and phrase until I lost myself in the process.
Through repetition, I bond between the past and the future. I exist in the present. I work with the infinite, with no beginning and no end. Content and form dialogue throughout my work. The cycle seems endless.
Breath inspired the Nafas Series (2014- ongoing). Drawing on both silence and life, the single universal attributes of Breath as a life force or pulse, pervades everything else in humanity. This philosophical context is distilled within the infinite contemplation of form.
The Boats Series (2015- ongoing) comprises thousands of small origami boats pasted side by side across various canvases. Observed together, individuality is lost. Instead, a fluid motion engulfs a subtle geometric form. While there is movement, its direction remains ambiguous. Each boat is an embodiment of human presence floating in the sea of life.
To experience the work is to slow down the pace of everyday life. To look patiently. To observe calmly. To step a little closer.

Afshan Daneshvar / November 2017


Curator’s Note

My first encounter with Afshan was in 13 Vanak Street where she wanted to show her shirts and robes covered in writing —very much like the undershirts the Pahlavans wore with talismanic mantras to protect them.
Second time was when I was curating “Visage / Image of Self” with her photographs of empty beds covered in white sheets and pillowcases.
The third time was when she was making little origami boats with paper. It was interesting to see the continuation of Persians-gone-Zen in the tradition of Sohrab Sepehri and Abbas Kiarostami. Of course, Sufism is the equivalent to Islam as is Zen to Buddhism.
At the time, she was very touched and moved by the plight of the ‘boat people’ and refugees; and being a sort of refugee herself, she identified with their problems. They were called the ‘boat people’ because of their means of transport to a place of refuge. So, Afshan was making with the help of assistants, thousands of little paper boats.
It is interesting that paper is her favorite media and it’s used for sculpture —in other words, in a three-dimensional way. Her means of arriving at a contemplative and meditative result is the repetition and the random shapes that these boats take once they are glued next to each other. The work is about texture, it’s about the layeredness of simplicity, and finally, meditation.

Fereydoun Ave / November 2017