The beauty of nothing
By Parviz Tanavoli
August 14, 2000
My 1965 sculpture exhibition at the Borghese Gallery in Tehran generated
nothing but criticism and hostility, but one item endured and went on to
earn recognition, proving to be the beginning of a new phase for me. In
the upper part of this composition was a plastic circle enclosing the word
heech (nothing) also in plastic and shaped in beautiful Persian
script. Below were hands, executed in plaster, grasping a copper grille.
I cannot say what it was the impelled me to create this piece -- whether
I was anxious about having reached a point of nothingness and was trying
to ward off the tendency, or whether I wanted to succumb to it and bring
it to realization as a creative source.
The artistic environment of the time, the school whose methods and pedagogy
I could not believe in, the thinkers and artists who daily trumpeted some
new artistic phenomenon from the West, and the aristocrats who proudly
bought their second-hand merchandise, provoked in me a reaction of protest:
heech was the voice of protest...
My nothingness, however, was not tinged with the cynicism of Western
artists. Mine was the nothingness of hope and friendship, a nothingness
that did not seek to negate. In my mind, it was not life that amounted
to nothing, but rather nothing which brimmed with life itself.
-- HAL magazine, London, June/July 2000
Click on images to see larger sculptures