Hossein Valamanesh art review

Essay by steady__eddieA-, February 2004

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Hossein Valamanesh has become established as one of Australia's best-known contemporary artists. Often utilising the most elemental of natural materials - branches, flames, leaves, sand, mud, seeds, earth - Valamanesh seeks out an essential connection to place through the simplest of means. His poetic works explore issues such as cultural identity, history, memory and the relationship between humanity and the natural world.

Hossein Valamanesh was born in Tehran in 1949. He lived with his Azerbaijani parents in the remote town of Khash in the province of Sistane Baluchestan, a mountainous, arid region in the east of Iran near the Pakistani border. In 1960, the family returned to Tehran where they settled into a small house in the city's down-at heel southern suburbs. He was raised by his mother and grandmother as Valamanesh's father spent most of his time working away form the family. During his early days in school, Valamanesh had a strong interest in geometry and mathematics, and showed a particular talent for drawing.

After three years at high school, he was accepted into Tehran's prestigious School of Fine Art in 1967. Valamanesh immigrated to Australia at the age of twenty-four, arriving in Perth, which was a difficult move as the cultural transition from Iran to Australia was a difficult one at first. In 1975, Valamanesh moved to Adelaide to study at the South Australian School of Art where he met his future wife and collaborator, Angela Burdon, with whom he has shared his life ever since.

Valamanesh's cultural style was inspired by Aboriginal art he examine in 1974. The profound experience with the desert and its people drew parallels with his childhood that produced a turning point in his art. His works now draw heavily on his Iranian heritage and culture, invoking the ancient world of Sufi poetry,