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Hossein Valamanesh


“Most works of art have within them the seed of an idea and the opportunity of exhibiting them may make it possible for these seeds to grow in the viewers mind with different interpretations. My original idea is only the beginning and I also follow the development of the work with interest. It is by our looking at the works that they realise their potential.”

(excerpt from Artist statement, 2005)

Works chronology  
Earlier Works works 2002 works 2005 this will also pass 2007 works 2010 works 2012 works 2015  
Artist Statement, 2015

This exhibition is composed of a selection of recent works that have evolved from my pre-occupation with ideas and images of maps, Farsi text, architecture and natural materials.

The woven map in Where do you come from? 2013, weaves an upside down world into our usual view of the world and makes it possible to be in two places at once although one may be hidden.  The other map work Where do I come from? 2013, uses the landmasses of cut up maps to inscribe a line of a poem by Rumi that has a more non-geographical yearning for home and place of belonging.  I have used the second line of a larger poem and below is a translation of the first two lines:

Everyday I meditate upon this, and every night I groan
Why is my own existence to myself the least known?

Whence have I come, why this coming here?
Where to must I go, when will my home to me be shown?

Architecture of the Sky, 1 & 2, 2014 is based on brick patterns of the vaulted ceiling in a mosque in Isfahan. 

Hasti Masti, 2015 plays with two Farsi words that are similar in sound and connected in meaning, Hasti meaning existence and Masti intoxication.  The two words have been extensively used in Persian poetry with many different connotations.

Breath, 2013, has evolved from an earlier work, Fallen branch, 2005, a circular interconnection of branches cast in bronze that was made from the branch of a tree I found in our street.   Breath is reminiscent of the bronchial branches of the lung while still remaining like branches of a tree that could have produced the oxygen we breathe.

'In each breath we take there are two gifts. 
The air that fills our lungs prolongs life.  
Giving that air back to the world refreshes the soul.
For each one of these Gifts, each time we receive it, 
We must give thanks.'

Extract from Saadi's Gulistan, 1259 AD, Shiraz, Iran

In this beautiful verse Saadi asks us to thank God. However, I think we should thank nature, forests and trees.

Hossein Valamanesh, February 2015

Artist Statement, 2012

This exhibition is a collection of new works made over the past eighteen months.  I have found that shifting from one material to another and exploring different ideas is both challenging and exhilarating. 

Lotus vault, 2011, and two other smaller works were inspired by a special room in the Jameh mosque, a magnificent 12th century building in Isfahan, which I visited while travelling in Iran two years ago with Angela and our son Nassiem.  I came across a series of five vaulted brick ceilings and my first reaction was that there were similarities to some indigenous Australian art. I have reproduced these brickwork patterns in lotus leaves and in the smaller works in natural ochres.  The works allude to the universality of geometry and pattern.  I also thought about the state of mind of the builders of these magnificent ceilings. 

The image for In my mother’s hands, 2011, was found in my cousin’s family photo album.  Although I remember the photo from my earlier years I had not noticed the hands that stopped me from falling over. By colouring them I have emphasized the connections to mother and mother-land.

Passing time, 2011, is a video work made in collaboration with Nassiem.  The work is an image of my hands and fingers continuously forming and reforming the infinity sign. The black box with its well-like cone is an integral part of the work.  It allows the viewer to see the work from different angels and creates a sense of intimacy.

Hossein Valamanesh, 2012

Artist Statement, 2010

My ongoing fascination with the written word is evident in this exhibition and I hope that the work here extends the conversation I started in my last show at Greenaway Art Gallery.

After my explorations with saffron and the word ‘love’ (eshg in Farsi / Persian) I became aware of the associations between text and colour - the yellow of madness and love. Life blood, 2010, gave me the opportunity to play with this coincidence. In Farsi text the word for blood (khun) and the casual expression for life (jun) are identical except for the position of one dot adding to the work’s ambiguity.

Guardian, 2010, is a collaborative work with Angela Valamanesh, inspired by one of her earlier works history, 1993. In that work she extended the back of a small wooden chair with white (plaster) branch-like forms. Next to it, on the wall, was a photo of her father as a boy seated on a similar chair. In Guardian, 2010, the extensions are castings of antlers and we have included the impressions of her footprints on the granite base. Three elements come together, animal, human and manmade. The viewer can imagine a person who is no longer there.

Still standing, 2010, is based on a poem by Rumi, which proclaims that the entire world is intoxicated. I have selected the second half of the first five lines of the poem because of their visual and rhythmic qualities that are unfortunately lost in translation. However, here is my attempt drawn from a small book of selected poems that I’ve had for over forty years. I have recently noticed that there are other versions with slight differences in other sources.

master drunk, servant drunk, friend drunk, stranger drunk,
garden drunk, meadow drunk, bud drunk, thorn drunk,
earth drunk, water drunk, air drunk, fire drunk,
spirit drunk, intellect drunk, imagination drunk, thoughts drunk,
song drunk, harp drunk, plectrum drunk, tar drunk,

I recall seeing news footage of a large group of women protesting outside the gates of Evin prison in Tehran where many political prisoners were being kept. These women were the mothers of the prisoners and they were demanding to visit their children and seeking justice and freedom for them. It is difficult for me to imagine their sorrow and anger. Patchwork quilts are made by mothers all around the world to give comfort and warmth to their children. Shades of green, 2010, was inspired by this humble craft and what I imagined these mothers wished for their children. The work is composed of a grid of patch-work using a variety of green fabrics that spell out the word ‘freedom’ (aazadi in Farsi) and the color green in Iran has recently come to symbolize an expression of the desire for freedom, justice and democracy. As there are many shades of green there are different ways and intensities of expressing this desire. Shades of green, 2010, is my expression of support and sympathy for the aspirations of the Iranian people.

Hossein Valamanesh
July, 2010

Artist Statement, 2007

Last year I attended a residency in Aomori Contemporary Art Center in northern Japan where I had intended to make a large ephemeral work painted directly on to the wall of the Gallery. However it turned out that the surface of the wall was not suitable for this and I used sheets of paper instead to make the work ‘Practice’ 2006 which is now part of this exhibition. The word ‘love’ - ‘eshg’ in Farsi - is repeated over and over again. The process was two fold; the practice of contemplating the concept of love and the nuances of calligraphy. Saffron added extra flavour with its beautiful colour, connotations and aroma as I was writing.

I have used Farsi text in my work for many years. At times this has been generated by poems I read or the materials I collect. In the work ‘This will also pass’, 2007, the material prompted the beginning of the work. The Crown of Thorn used in ‘Touch Love’, 2006, determined the text and its language, English in this case, which I am using for the first time. I feel there is always an interplay between materials and ideas in my work. ‘Twins’ 2007 and ‘As I remember her’ 2007, return to ideas explored in ‘Homa’ 2001 and again use fan palm fronds and the image of plaited hair. I like the humour in ‘Twins’ - they could also be lovers.

I have always been fascinated by the way the image of a halo is represented in early miniature paintings. The light is more down to earth in the form of a flame. The last work I made for this exhibition ‘The beauty of Yusuf’ takes its inspiration from a 16th century miniature painting depicting the love story of Yusuf and Zulaykha.

Hossein Valamamesh, July, 2007

Artist Statement, 2005

'Most works of art have within them the seed of an idea and the opportunity of exhibiting them may make it possible for these seeds to grow in the viewers mind with different interpretations. My original idea is only the beginning and I also follow the development of the work with interest. It is by our looking at the works that they realise their potential.

I do not wish to write about the ideas behind the work but would prefer to talk about the process of making them. In general I do not set out to do a particular show. The work accumulates over time and about 6 months before the show the gallery space becomes an important factor. The complementary or contrasting nature of the works is considered and I take great pleasure in arranging them to animate the space.

Most of the works in this exhibition were actually made over the past 18 months but a few of the images are from three years ago when we visited Iran. Images and materials are regularly collected and they have to wait for their turn.

Our portrait in 'On Reflection' was taken north of Tehran in the beautiful foothills of the Alborz mountains. Sitting by a stream a young Afghani man with a wooden box camera (as I recall from my past) took our picture. Not using any film the negative image was imprinted onto photographic paper and then photographed again to give a positive image. The negative image interested us both more as it appeared that light was emanating from within. The image for 'You become will earth' was collected from a newspaper in Tehran around the same time.

In parallel to projects and other activities and evolving ideas I look around me with open and intuitive eyes, be it in the front gardens of our neighborhood, the peppercorn tree in my back garden (which has come to nothing) or in Bundanon in NSW, collecting maiden hair fern leaves. These collected materials and images become the object of my attention and contemplation. Late last year I found a large broken branch of a white cedar tree in the street which I dragged back to my studio. It took a while before it could tell me what it wanted to be but eventually it grew from a central point to a complex connection of branches which necessitated its transformation into bronze. It became 'Fallen Branch'.
These collected materials and images have their own potential for becoming something else and this is realised by manipulation and arrangement. There are also works that start from an idea and the challenge is to find the right material and method to bring them to life.

The working life of an artist can be solitary which in itself is not a bad thing. I have been fortunate to share this time with my partner, Angela, and we have shared a studio for more than 20 years. Beside collaborating on major projects we have made some sculptural works and a number of works on paper together. Although she is acknowledged through the collaborative works what is not seen is her critical dialogue, advice and assistance for which I would like to thank her. Also I would like to thank Tim Thomson and crew for bronze casting, Catherine Buddle for assistance with digital manipulation of 'On Reflection', Gunter May for his advice and for making the wooden ladder, Ian Burdon who brought me the broken branch with the Jay nest and Minoo Momeni for permission to use the image for 'You will become Earth'.

Hossein Valamanesh, June, 2005

· Artist Statement, 2015
[essays should not be reproduced without permission from the authors]
1949 Born in Tehran, Iran Hossein Valamanesh
1970 Graduated from School of Fine Art, Tehran
1973 Emigrated to Australia
1977 Graduated from South Australian School of Art, Adelaide
currently lives and works in Adelaide, South Australia
2015 GAGPROJECTS, Adelaide
2014 Angela & Hossein Valamanesh, Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne
Binns + Valamanesh, Casula Powerhouse, Sydney
Literary Notions, Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery
2013 Hossein & Angela Valamanesh, Breenspace, Sydney
Breath, Rose Issa Project, London, United Kingdom
Hossein Valamanesh: Selected works 1992-2013, Grey Noise Gallery, Dubai, UAE
2012 Hossein Valamanesh, Greenaway Art Gallery
2011 In My Mother's hands, GrantPirrie Gallery, Sydney
2010 Hossein Valamanesh, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
Time Travel, 1985-2009, Manning Regional Art Gallery
2009 Hossein Valamanesh, AMA Gallery, Helsinki, Finland
2008 Hossein Valamanesh, Turner Gallery, Perth
2007 This will also pass, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
2006 Hossein Valamanesh, Sherman Galleries, Sydney

Hossein Valamanesh, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide

2004 Hossein Valamanesh and Angela Valamanesh, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
2003 Natural Selection, Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra
Bett Gallery, Hobart
2002 Tracing the Shadow: Hossein Valamanesh Recent Works, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Travel Tales, Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney
Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
2001 Hossein Valamanesh: A Survey, Art Gallery of South Australia
Hossein and Angela Valamanesh, Sherman Galleries Hargrave, Sydney
2000 Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide

Internal Travel, National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan
Hossein Valamanesh, Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney

1998 Hossein Valamanesh, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
1997 Tracing the Shadow, Art Front and Hillside Galleries, Tokyo
1996 Hossein Valamanesh, Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney
1995 Hossein Valamanesh, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
Viewers and Audiences, Wollongong City Art Gallery, NSW
1994 The Lover Circles His Own Heart, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
1993 The Lover Circles His Own Heart, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw
Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
Luba Bilu Gallery, Melbourne
Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
1991 Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin
1990 Luba Bilu Gallery, Melbourne
Hossein Valamanesh, 1980-1990, Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia
Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
1988 McQuarrie Galleries, Sydney
1987 Bonython Meadmore Gallery, Adelaide
1986 Gryphon Gallery, Melbourne
Walter Reid Art Centre, Rockhampton
2014 Jardins de bagatelle II, Galerie Tanit, Munich
Art Dubai, GAGPROJECTS, Dubai
WOOD: art design architecture, Jam Factory touring exhibition, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, QUT Art Museum, Kick Arts, Object: Australian Design Centre, NSW
2013 Hossein and Angela Valamanesh, BREENSPACE, Sydney
Heartland, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Australia, Royal Academy of Arts, London
2012 Kochi Miziris Biennale, India
On Collaboration, Breenspace, Sydney
Rose Issa Project, Art Dubai, Dubai
Drawing Room, Breenspace, Sydney
2011 Generations, Wollongong City Gallery, NSW
2009 Great Collections, Museums and Galleries of NSW, touring exhibition
2008 Handle with Care: 2008 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, South Australia
Uneasy: Recent South Australian Art, Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide
Melbourne Art Fair
Shadow Play, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie, NSW
Ephemeral, Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Japan
2006 Found Out, Lake Macquarie Regional Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie, NSW
Strange Cargo: Contemporary Art as a State of Encounter, Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, Newcastle, NSW
Prism: Contemporary Australian Art, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo
Clemenger Contemporary Art Award, Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Melbourne
Photographic Portrait Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Earth Cry, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie, NSW

MCA Collection: New Acquisitions in Context, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Mentor, Mentored, Contemporary Art Centre of SA, Adelaide
Text Me, Sherman Galleries, Sydney

2004 One Of: Festivus 04, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
Fire Dreaming, University Art Gallery, University of Sydney, Sydney
Skin, Salamanca Art Centre, Hobart
2003 Festivus, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
A small private eye, Horsham Regional Gallery and touring

2002: The Year in Art, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney
Shape of Air, Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart
Deeper Places, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Sydney
BORDERPANIC, Performance Space, Sydney
Nelson + Valamanesh, Sherman Galleries Hargrave
Group Exhibition, Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney


the self, freespace Project Space, S.C.A.A., Wynyard
Hermanns Art Award, Sherman Galleries Hargrave, travelling to Tamworth City Gallery, NSW; Tweed River Regional Gallery, NSW; Hermanns Melbourne Stores, VIC; Bendigo Art Gallery, VIC; Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, VIC; Wollongong City Gallery, NSW; New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale, NSW; Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, NSW; Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery & Arts Centre, NSW; Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, NSW
A Century of Collecting 1901–2001, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney
7th NICAF: International Contemporary Art Festival 2001 Tokyo, Tokyo International Forum, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Orbit, University of South Australia Art Museum, adelaide

2000 ARCO, Madrid, Spain
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, Japan
Chemistry: Art in South Australia 1990-2000, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Defiling the Object, Substation Gallery, Singapore

The Rose Crossing, Brisbane City Art Gallery, Brisbane; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, Holmes à Court Gallery, Perth, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery, Sydney


1999 Hermanns Art Award, Melbourne
Volume and Form, Singapore


Something, Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney
Sixth Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Melbourne

1997 Australian Perspecta, Between Art & Nature, SH Ervin Gallery, 8th Asian Biennial, Bangladesh
Other Stories, Five Australian Artists, Asialink exhibition
1994 Aussemblage!, Auckland City Art Gallery, NZ
1993 Fifth Australian Sculpture Triennial, Melbourne
Inner Land, Gallery, Soko, Tokyo
Identities : Art from Australia, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan
1989 Metro-Mania, Australia and Regions Art Exchange, Perth
1987 Painters & Sculptors, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
Australian Contemporary Art, Museum of Modern Art, Siatama, Japan
1985 Australian Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
1983 Survey of Recent South Australian Sculpture, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
1981 Centenary Exhibition, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
2014 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, Washington DC
2011 Awarded AM
2010 Green Room Awards, Set design in theatre, when the rain stops falling
2008 Skills & Development Award, Visual Arts Board, The Australia Council for the Arts
Artist in Residence, Turner Galleries & Central TAFE, Perth
2006 Artist in Residence, Aomori, Japan
Artist in Residence, ANU School of Art, Canberra
2005 Artist in Residence, Sydney Grammar School, NSW
2001 Artist in Residence, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
1998 Australia Council Visual Arts/Crafts Fund Fellowship
1997 Project Grant Arts SA, Grand Prize 8th Asian Biennial, Bangladesh
1991 Visual Arts/Crafts Board Fellowship Residency, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin
1982 Visual Arts Board Grant, Australia Council
2011 Ginkgo Gate, Botanic Gardens, Adelaide, in collaboration with Angela Valamanesh
2008 When The Rain Stops Falling, stage design, Brink Productions, Adelaide Festival
2006 Here is love, editioned work on paper, Art Gallery of SA, Contemporary Collectors
2005 14 Pieces, in collaboration with Angela Valamanesh, North Terrace, Adelaide
2004 Unveiled, Australian Phenomics Facility, Australian National University, Canberra
1999 An Gorta Mor, Memorial to the Great Irish Famine, in collaboration with Angela Valamanesh, Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney
1996 Fault Line, Sculptural environment, Southbank, Melbourne
1994 You just sit here... Faret Tachikawa Art Project, Tokyo, Japan
1993 Journey, sculptural environment, Rookwood Necropolis, Sydney
1989 Knocking from the Inside, sculptural environment, ASER Complex, Adelaide

Alice Springs Art Centre
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Aomori, Japan
City of Melville, WA
Deakin University Art Museum
Edith Cowan University
Gryphon Gallery, The University of Melbourne
Kadist Art Foundation, Paris
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Parliament House, Canberra
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
Sara Hildén Art Museum, Tampere, Finland
University of Queensland, Bribane
University of South Australia, Adelaide
University of Western Australia, Perth
Wagga Wagga Regional Art Gallery, NSW
Wesfarmers, WA