Abbas Akbari

Reading Archaic Texts

The tablets were special to me and I prefered to continue looking at them as a piece of mystery. I liked the sense of mystery around them. To me, the words and texts in these tablets are wrapped in a mythical halo.

This collection "Reading Archaic Texts" is an attepmpt to use handwriting as a subject and means of creating works of art independent of its nature and use in caligraphy though such anepmts are not unprecedented in different branches of modern arts both in Iran and other countries. In general, handwriting serves different functions in works of art;
1- Caligraphy: handwriting is used aesthetically used to express a meaningful content. Different types and techniques in caligraphy reflect this use of handwrting.
2- Decorative use: handwriting is used of onamentatal purposes. This usually ignors the content and meaning of the words used and the whole work of art is basically decorative.
3- Expressing word concepts: in This category handwniting is used to express the concepts embeded in each word along with its decorative aspect of handwriting. As expressing the meaning is of paramount importance, the work should be legible which leads to a light visual effect of handwriting.
For me handwritng served none of these functions as I found no interest to replicate them These functions have been overrused in graphics and other visual arts. In addition, using handwniting just for decorative purposes is ignoring its potential in improving the quality of works of art. In sculpture. handwriting has been used to arrive at an aesthetic expression of concepts, though one can better express and transfer concepts and meanings in literature than in visual arts as literature and caligraphy- at least interconnected and integrated. This is why caligraphy is much mone successful when applied in literature than sculpture. My contact with different tablets especially cuneifrom tablets and the feelings and reactions I had in seeing them in different museums, created a sense of awe and wonder in me. I hae never heen able to read them. Nor have I tried to learn reading them because I thought knowing the meaning of these cuneiforms and signs would disambiguate them to me and could result to a very normal reaction to them. The tablets were special to me and I prefered to continue looking at them as a piece of mystery. I liked the sense of mystery around them. To me, the words and texts in these tablets are wrapped in a mythical halo. It was this sense of mystery around every tablet that motivated me to recreate and revive the same feeling in the viewers, Most viewers are always attracted to the visual beauty of these tablets and are less concerned with the mys tical sense they can create. In this series of works, I have tried to recreate a sense of suspence in the view er and encourage them to ask themselves if these forms are meaningful or just a beautiful arrangements. I thought the viewers by seeing these three-dimensional forms may doubt about the meaning of these froms as mere arrangements or meaningful forms My interest in the study of the relationship between handwriting and myths when I was a student and my funher work and experiences with different handwritings all contributed to these series of works which are differnet from my earlier works T could not convince myself to create some works that are just visually attractive. In creating these works, I could not ignore the fact theat language is completely structured at all levels of sounds, words, and struc ture and one cannot work with handwriting without considering its basic fucntion, that is. expressing mean- ing In designing three-dimensional forrms I considered some gemetric principles. I designed them in four dif- lerent sizes so that the smaller sizes could be embeded in the larger ones. Inspired by the letter which is the only Persian cuneiform letter that can be attached to other letters, I made different compositions and arrengemnents. Besides these, I though of using bare mud-bricks and mud bricks with cuneiform letters carved on them. Together, they could hlpe better signify the importance of the emptiness in the bare mud bricks I used and applied these elements of handwring in pottery and ceramic due to my interest and work experi eNces with this material. This could integrate a different forms of traditional art and create a new form and novel perspecive which can be a step forward in expressing and creating a work of art. This is in line With my previous work The fish in Attarha's House" In some works of this collection I also experienced using another form of art-photography in the form of photo plates beside cuneiforms each with a different functions. These works show the potentail of each form of art in being integrated with other forms to create the same form Some of these works- 3 works- were exhibnited in the Fourth Biannual of Iranian Sculpture in the summer 2005 This book is a collecction of my previous works and some new ones. Having all the works in one col- lection may be a good answer to the question repeatedly asked by studnets of art. "What is the role and position of traditional art in modern art? The book is my concrcte answer embodied in these forms of art rather than a philosophical dehate It is what we actually need as an answer. This is what we need in a The book suggests one possibility in integrating and expressing the traditional forms of art in modern art.