Feature: A Man Apart
“The work of the Iranian designer Reza Abedini shows the deep limitations of this way of thinking. Abedini uses graphic devices familiar to viewers with even a passing knowledge of the discipline’s history. He does this with great concentration and style and his work can be appreciated by anyone with an eye for the medium. In moments of doubt, Abedini is inclined to wonder whether these devices make his work look “old” or at least too simple to Western observers. Yet his way of thinking and the meanings his designs carry reflect a culture and a sense of history quite different from our own. His work is new from a secular European perspective and perhaps from an Iranian perspective, too.
Abedini is a key figure in the resurgence in Iranian graphic design that has taken place since the late 1990s, though it has not so far receive d much attention in Britain, where perceptions of Iran are shaped by the nuclear intentions of its government. In 2003, his work was included in Area, Phaidon’s global survey of 100 significant graphic designers. Last year, partly to counter Iran’s negative image, Abedini published New Visual Culture of Modern Iran, a survey of graphic design, illustration and photography, which included some of his work. He also won the Netherlands’ prestigious Prince Claus Award, worth 100,000 Euros and given to a figure making an exceptional contribution to the arts in the non-Western world. It was the first time a graphic designer had received the prize.”
I have never had the opportunity to really understand the new age of artwork from the Middle East. I am only familiar with the more traditional works of art dating back centuries ago. Reza Abedini stood out to me because of the way captures the essence of his subjects but then bringing in text to make it more elaborate and eye-catching. He uses the whimsical structure of the Arabic text to his advantage, using them to create creative and beautiful designs that carry out the Iranian culture. Even though he has come under fire for combing the Arabic calligraphy in different ways, His defense is that, “In Persian calligraphy, the letter is not an isolated character. Letters bond to form words and the shape of a letter may change in different configurations.” He combines different forms of writing in his work to add to his design element.