Nationalist Art

Since there is not much going on in the world aside from Tony’s little secret game, I am going to stick to art criticism…
Over a month ago Arta Gallery here in Toronto was hosting Nasser Ovassi’s painting. In the gallery I met my dear friend professor Hamid, and we decided to write a little critique of the art work. We were both amazed by the nativvist nationalist content of the art. I remember that in one of my classes I had argued against labeling any form of art Orientalist. My main argument was that no artist will deliberately serve the means of Orientalism as defined by Edward Said, as art should be looked upon apolitically even if political.
Ovassi’s art however, talk about self-orientalized art. What you could find in every single painting was women, pomegranates, and horses or any combination of the three. The women had round faces, rosy checks, big eyes, thick eyelashes, gold jewelry, and submissive characters. The pomegranates looked pretty much like any pomegranate found in any supermarket. The horses were feminized and had rosy checks, big eyes, thick eyelashes, gold jewelry, and rebellious characters. Written on some of the painting were nationalistic poetries from Ferdowsi and other poets. The ancient Iranian symbols of Achaemenid times were often combined in some forms with the other symbols. Tombs of Cyrus the great, Mithra’s figure, Achaemenid soliders were all present in the paintings. The flashy use of the gold color was a prominent feature of all the painting.
When you are dealing with symbolic art you often wonder what the symbols mean. So I asked Ovassi why he has focused on such symbols. He told me because they are all Iranian. “Horses are native to Iran; even the famous Arabian horse was originally from Iran. The pomegranate everyone knows that it is an Iranian passion fruit. No one else had it in the world and they took pomegranate seeds from Iran. These women are the women of Iran, the most beautiful in the world. We are known for our women around the world. I am trying to show what authentic Iranianess mean. We have great history, a glorious past, we were the greatest empire, and we were the creators of justice. I want to show that in my art.”
It was then that it hit me. This art is the lowest of the low. Why would anyone want to purchase a piece of artwork that reminds them of their glorious past, their nationalist feelings, their nativists sentiments, and their false sense of identity. Are we deceiving ourselves into believing that we as Iranians were so great before Islam that we had horses, beautiful submissive women, and pomegranates we exported to the world? Give me a break….buy your very sweet Spanish pomegranate from the market, look at achievements of women around the world, and if you are lucky ride and Arabian horse, cause they are the best in the world.