Artist Parham Ghalamdar will discuss their practice and current exhibition at Workplace Foundation with lecturer, researcher and artist, Jenny Eden.
Painted in intense acidic colour, surreal forms and structures inhabit desolate and empty landscapes. Uncanny and strange these objects adhere to rigorous placement, assimilating elements drawn from a diverse range of Western and Middle Eastern Art History such as Caravaggio, Goya, Bouguereau, Soviet Socialist realism, graffiti, pop culture and traditional Persian miniatures.
Parham Ghalamdar’s works switch between the aesthetics of realism and the cartoon. Through this absurdist strategy Ghalamdar obfuscates narrative enabling the painting to stand alone, resistant to a didactic reading. The considered, rational structuring of his paintings stand as a counterpoint to the oppressive weight of dogmatic ideology that Parham experienced in his homeland.
Jenny Eden is a painter and researcher based in Salford. She lectures in Fine Art at Manchester School of Art and co-runs Oceans Apart, a gallery in Salford dedicated to contemporary painting. Her paintings are psychologically driven, giving attention to process, the painting’s communicable potential and the complex exchange between painter and painting. Imbued with psychoanalytic thinking, and the exploratory nature of Sigmund Freud’s early psychological investigations, Jenny’s paintings inform a body of research which examines the interrelatedness of two previously independent philosophies – New Materialism and Psychoanalysis – from the position of a painter.
Jenny is currently studying a By Practice PhD in Painting at Manchester School of Art, following an MFA in Fine Art also from Manchester (2017). Other qualifications include an MA in Art Psychotherapy from Leeds Metropolitan University (2006), a PGCE in Art and Design from the University of Surrey, Roehampton (2001) and she graduated with a BA in
Fine Art from Birmingham School of Art (2000).
Jenny Eden Thank you for inviting me to speak and to talk to Parham. Fabulous. Fantastic show here at Workplace Foundation, we've had a really good conversation in preparation for this, so I'm hoping to share with you lots of thoughts and ideas that Parham is bringing to the practice that is generated through the practice. So when, we realise we've known each other for about three and a half years,
Parham Ghalamdar Almost four years.
Jenny Eden And so I've been aware of your practice in the developments in it for that length of time. But I notice here there's a new kind of addition in the show, which is somewhere where we thought we'd start was thinking about the drawings. And then we'll move on to paintings and so on. So, um. So this new addition, could you tell me about what you call the drawings in the show.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. So I think I was kind of trying to... It initially started with trying to bring something from my background to this sort of show, which my practice is kind of rooted somehow in graffiti as well. There's there are some references and I was trying to bring something from there. And it was also, you know, kind of, uh, I was trying to borrow some elements from the paintings because you do, whether it's a horse or fire or all the symbolism here. You do find it in the paintings. So it's kind of borrowed from the paintings. It's not a standalone thing. And I was kind of trying to kind of challenge these, you know, white walls a bit. There's a, there's a play with distance of the audience and the works as well.
Jenny Eden Because you were talking about the relationship between you and the drawings and the paintings.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. It's it's drawing is um... It's it's kind of a strange because I don't make drawings as a finalized piece of work to make drawings. I make drawings as a, as a plan for painting. And so it's planning for painting. And then and during moments that, like I'm done with the painting, I'm finished. I've finished the painting. But, you know, did you have a dialogue of painting and this dialogue has ended from your side. You don't have much, much more information to put on the canvas on the surface, but you feel like there is still information to receive from the canvas, like the dialogue is still going on from the other side. So you kind of.. I do this a lot that I have like these postcard sized papers all around the studio that I pick them up and go round. You know, when I'm done with the painting, I go round and kind of collect forms from the painting. I pick out details and capture them because the painting is still giving me information. And that's a lot... I mean, it's a very common thing that artists stare at the paintings. Without doing, without having physical activity, which as you stare at the painting.
Jenny Eden So much time is spent looking.
Parham Ghalamdar Yes. It's when the painting is giving you some information and probably you're thinking about you kind of slowing down to make slow, quiet decisions for the next move. Maybe you're considering what you need to do later. What's your next step? And so I was I was, and I have this relationship with drawing and painting. And what was happening here, which I was very happy with, was that in these drawings in large scale and then the painting is a smaller scale. To see the paintings, you need to go close, but to see those drawings on the walls and to go back. So there's this, it's very playful. You need to go back and forth to see that, to experience this space. So it's a very dynamic, very animated experience. I would say, even though the works themselves are static, it's just sitting there. But experiencing this space is a very, very much animated experience.
Jenny Eden So there's a kind of a shifting that's going on on the surface of the wall, between the paintings and the surface and then a shifting of the body through looking, moving backwards and forwards.
Parham Ghalamdar Painting is, you know, it's, uh, it's embodied. It's not an illustration. It's not an illustration in terms of you're not there trying to illustrate something and it's embodied. There is a there's a physicality to it.
Jenny Eden I guess that relates to what I just said about the body moving in and out. Because you do think about that, that way that there is such a physicality and that surface value.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. So you kind of yeah, the painter is kind of, is actually leaving a trace on the surface. Oil paint is minerals and soil and whatever, it's mixed with linseed oil or wax, other mediums and so it's... you're literally leaving a trace. It's like a footprint, basically. So you see you kind of and when you're when you're painting, you're kind of, you know, adding stuff in there and poking at the canvas and you're just leaving some qualities on the surface and you're leaving different qualities on the surface. And so it's you know, the surface values are important as well. So you're kind of. I mean, I personally in my paintings, I'm leaving antagonists and protagonists on the canvas. Different qualities that of kind of contrast and that saturate the qualities on the surface, to, also, you know, you get the eye involved.
Jenny Eden I think that's something that's so important about the work. And seeing the work firsthand is that surface quality. I said earlier the kind of, the incredible texture that the paintings hold and the change in texture across the painting, which then you talked about in terms of using mediums so linseed or wax. Yeah... encaustic wax paste. And then some areas are just with turps, so you've setting up these differences of surface family surface quality. And that evidence of your hand having made that.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah. So, so. So you know. So that's the thing. So when you see the images of the painting, you're not experiencing the painting. You're experiencing references to the painting. It's not the painting. That image is not the painting. And you need to experience painting by actually going around and see the painting, the actual object. Yeah. And on this. And so. And the thing to say, like different textures. You know, I use a lot of wax in my paint, as painting. I use it a lot. Not not in every painting, but I use a lot. And it's. It's such an you know, it's... there is a real joy in the material. Just just making that material and experiencing it... Like, when you mix wax with these really, you know, like a pure colour, look like these, you know, warm colours, especially, you especially see with the with the pink. When you mix stuff, it looks so edible and it looks so erotic and looks really attractive. And so there is a pure joy in that. And also, it's also about, you know, it's it's very thick. And you kind of get that in a lot of these paintings that there's a very thin layer. Then it gets thicker and then you have wax. And so you have that. You have like you have something way in the front and you have something the middle and you have something way at the back.
Jenny Eden And this is happening with what's on the surface. But also in the composition. Yes... you kind of got this two fold. Tonal recession or distance, or something like that's interesting... there's two things happening in the painting.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, I think so. I think first and foremost, painting is about perception. So you're seeing it. So these qualities that you see matter. And you need to it's it's about, you know, the history of painting and the language of painting, how to get the eye involved, basically. So that's what I mean when I say antagonists or protagonist. So you, make a surface. You introduce a surface as something wet. Then you introduce a surface as something, you know, dry. And you introduce a surface really solid and hard and introduce, something squishy, edible. And so it's it's about you know, that's what I mean by antagonist. So I have a... I start with a subject and I have the antagonist to it and it builds, I build around it, it builds up on the qualities to kind of, you know, get the eye involved that it's, you know, explore the, you know, perceptual understanding of your existence. Perhaps.
Jenny Eden It kind of reminds you about being alive, doesn't it?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, yes.
Jenny Eden Looking at a painting reminds you of the person who's made it. A person who's applied something and considered different aspects. Yeah....
Parham Ghalamdar Which, which is what Cezanne's doubt is about, you know, you kind of experience your existence through perception. You are experiencing existence by living your body and living your life. And you can you can see your environment, you can see yourself, you can see you're part of this environment. And so it's a very existential way of understanding yourself and your surroundings. And it's... Which also comes with a lot of anxiety. It's also about anxiety, because when you see yourself, when you see your environment, it kind of blurs the boundary between you and your surroundings in some ways because you're leaving traces as well. And also it's also you know, it's also about this anxiety of, you know, I see something I cannot paint it exactly as I see it, which is what Cezanne was worried about for years and years in front of that mountain, just contantly painting the mountain. And there is a real question, that I cannot paint the sensation of experience as I am actually seeing it and experiencing it. And what is wrong here? Is it me or is it a human being or what's wrong here? So it's a very real question about existence and understanding your existence.
Jenny Eden And the pursuit of trying. Keeping going. And keeping painting, repainting. The thing with Cezanne, that thing of being like in the landscape. It's also about germinating. Or maybe it was Maurice Merleau Ponty talks about germinating in the landscape. Your paintings were... Cezanne was as well... This thing was developing within a space. Yeah.
Jenny Eden Maybe that, maybe that brings us on nicely to these kind um... The kind of content thats in the paintings. Yeah.
Jenny Eden And this you know, this thing of where these kind of subjects, these maybe motifs, these things in the paintings come from. Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar That's a very interesting. come together. Yeah. Yeah. So so I have this ridiculously vivid imagination that just streams ideas. It just doesn't stop!
Jenny Eden I think thats really evident yes.
Parham Ghalamdar It just doesn't stop. It's... I never struggle to paint about... like I never struggle with subjects to paint.
Jenny Eden Wondering what to paint.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. I'm never worried about that. It happens, it happens out of nowhere because I mean, not just as a painter, as an artist, but but as a human being. You know what? Are you constantly receiving information. And maybe as a painter, I'm just more sensitive about it. I try to sometimes curate what I receive. Right. So like, you know...we all do, we read books and watch films and all of this stuff in different ways, channels of receiving information. And so I. So so I'm I'm always receiving stuff and I'm always thinking about them and I always have these ideas and I write them down and make drawings. And so I always have ideas. It never stops. And... And um... But however, however, when I'm painting, I'm not thinking about any of the subjects. I'm thinking about the langu age of painting. When I'm painting, when I'm putting the brush stroke on... which goes back to the same thing I said, it's embodied. It's not illustrated. Yes. So it's it's in being embodied. The painting is being embodied. It's not illustrated. So I don't I'm not thinking about, oh, I want to paint this table on not thinking about the subject and the content I'm thinking... So each brush stroke is a little idea. It's an epigram basically. It's a surface idea and it's it's a little idea about colour, light, shape. And it's a epigramic idea. It's not a giant epic idea, its a very little idea about language of painting. And maybe that's why also I make drawings to plan for the painting, because I know that through the painting I wont think about the subject.
Jenny Eden And you so... , because you talk about having like a kind of idea. for the painting.
Parham Ghalamdar Yes.
Jenny Eden this constant stream of imagery...
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden Which we'll talk about soon. Well.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden About where it comes from. But. And so you've kind of got something... because one of my questions was like where... How do you start?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden How does it get going. So you've maybe got something that starts you off?
Parham Ghalamdar Yes. Yeah.
Jenny Eden And then and then you're kind of in this reverie or this sort of responsive place.
Parham Ghalamdar So it's it's usually like, you know, I've I've been reading something, I've been watching something. I've been thinking about something. Something is. Worrying me maybe. And I feel like maybe I just. I'm just interested, just a personal interest that I want to paint about or associate myself as a person, associate myself with it. It's just interesting to me and I have that little thing, little idea and which has some qualities. Right. And then it depends whether it's a landscape or whatever. There will be different steps to it. So if if I'm going to start with a landscape, obviously I'm going to paint start to paint with the sky and from whatever is at the back of the painting and come forward. So because there is I think there's alphabet to painting, if you want it to work, you... If you want it to work as a landscape. You need to start with what is back there and come forward. So there's an alphabet to this language, obviously. And even if you're gonna break that alphabet you need to have reasons, obviously. So, so I start... Those steps. How these layers must come forward to stay on top. You start with bigger, bigger decisions. Right. They describe the background colour. Yeah. You come forward. And as you go forward, your decisions narrow down and become a little... You know, at the end. You just intensely adding. So it goes on like that.
Jenny Eden Do they kind of form, thinking of the paintings that are around us here... Do you have a kind of sense of some elements, some things that are going to be in it and then maybe some... Suddenly some kind of elongated heart appears? or some some other split or fire or something happens?
Parham Ghalamdar It's. Yes. So it's I start with little things that I'll do. I have some idea what I want it to be. I have some desire for it to shape it. But what happens is that... So I start with little things and add antagonists to it. But then um... And I do make quick sketches at the first with loose paint and turpentine and just some quick compositional structure for it, but um
Parham Ghalamdar But then something really ridiculous about it is that I usually stop halfway through like what I want the painting to be is way more maximal than what it is... How it ends up.
Parham Ghalamdar There's so much more to it, of these interests and things that I want to put in the painting...so much. And.. And then I start to paint and I start to form it. And then I reach a level that I feel like even though I could go further...I'm exhausted.
Jenny Eden Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar And, you know, painting has this sandbox mode to it that you can go on and on and on and can you can exhausted it. But but I feel like it's enough. It's working. It's already making sense and it's enough. Right. So, so I stop halfway through... almost all the time.
Jenny Eden Every...every painting? So what do you think that is about that kinfd of maxing out? The idea...the idea of... that you want the painting to kind of hold everything.
Parham Ghalamdar Oh, my God. Yeah. It's it's I think it's I think it's because. Probably because, you know, it's rooted, you know, how has been where I've been raised and where I grew up, where I was born and how I was raised. It's like I think it's because of my... you know, I grew up in Iran and, you know, Iran has a long history of struggle and famine and everything. So there is this survivalist working class mentality that... And you either have everything right now or you might never get it. There might never be tomorrow for it. Right? So there is this working class survivalist mentality that I want to tell all the stories right now in this single painting because there might not get another painting. And even and I need to constantly, constantly remind myself like like to consciously remind myself that to just chill out, just chill out!
Jenny Eden There will be another painting!
Parham Ghalamdar This this I mean, MA painting program is going go for another six months. Don't worry about it. It's it's it's I need to just remind myself.
Parham Ghalamdar If I push it too far and exhaust it, you know, it it's it will be just too much. It will just ruin that joy and that satisfaction and that sensation.
Jenny Eden And that kind of interplay of things going on in the painting is like if you're like in your imagination stripping back whilst whilst applying paint. Kind of taking things out of the idea as you're applying content.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Because. Go on?
Jenny Eden Because that's what's so striking about these paintings is this kind of relationship between the things in the paintings and that... We've talked before I know. And, you know, in thinking about these paintings here is kind of where the where the eye is going, where it's going in leading, where the eye is being led, where it's journey and exiting maybe...all those things. And when you've got so many things in the painting. There is a kind of...
Parham Ghalamdar It becomes so sudden.
Jenny Eden It's lack of maybe true perception.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, it's. Yeah. Especially here the paintings are quite small. Most of them. And and you know, if you fit too much into that. It distracts the eye and it becomes messy.
Jenny Eden Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar And we want. We want things to be in order.
Jenny Eden Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar Because I mean I have this obsession with order and reason. Right. Yeah. Which again, I think it goes back to my experiences with Iran because I have experience. What would happen if you put reason and order to sleep? I know what monsters it could produce. And and so I have this obsession with, you know, being very clear. With everything. Planning everything. And even though I keep space for doubt and changing direction, in the painting obviously. I'm responding to every brush stroke that's what makes painting critical...um compared to a lot of other mediums... but I'm also you know, I need to make sure....I, I slow down. I need to make right decisions, slow decisions, reasonable decisions for every brush stroke. I can, I can explain it for you: why that brush stroke is over there?... For every one of these paintings. Why was the intention... what was happening? Why...? So I have this obsession for reason and order, which is a very reasonable obsession, actually. Right? Because I know what happens otherwise.
Jenny Eden Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar Does that make sense?
Jenny Eden yeah. So about the about the subjects then. Where they come from?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. It's um... The oldest painting in this exhibition is from February 2019 and which I was like... I was reading the book Capitalist Realism by Marc Fisher and um... and I was getting this sense from this book that this sense of, you know Mark Fisher talks about capitalism, and liberalism, and he's talking about it in a way that he says that capitalism, in order for capitalism to survive, it constantly needs to produce disaster. And you get this feeling of conspiracy theories and all those ideas. And I was thinking that and I was also was kind of I was really interested in that book. And I was I came up with this idea of, you know, maybe I would like to paint this sense of a passive, non-place, abstract space where there is a table and something being is being planned on it. Something theoretical is being planned, a disaster is being planned, and then something is being modelled on the table. And there are no figures around because it's just it's a very passive and previously activated space. That the ideas are formed, tested. And now those figures, those people have left to execute those ideas maybe. So this, there is this kind of strange, really passive feeling to it. And, um, and so it's sort of specifically about those paintings at the beginning. That was the idea with the tables. And, um. And I was painting like, you know, this fire being simulated, this prop fire. This was sense of threat. There's something disastrous is gonna come along.
Jenny Eden It's all... it's happening in this contained space?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar So there was this idea and this goes on and on and I was painting study...diagrams, I was painting this type of stuff like something is being explained and diagrams as painting, painting as diagram... Which again goes back to my position of science and reason and order. Um that diagram is trying to explain something clearly, but then in the painting nothing is being explained actually. It's so opposite.
Jenny Eden Yeah. This is something else.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, another theme that is explored in the paintings that...you know, so, you know, if you put these decisions that I'm making are very serious and I know what's happening, but a lot of people...You know in daily life, we might define absurdity, humour, jokes - we might, we might define these terms as the opposite of being serious. While the idea of the philosophy of existentialism, the idea of absurdity or the absurd or humour - humour is such a heavily, you know, heavily loaded philosophical term. It's so it's such a serious subject. It's a very serious subject. What is humour? And I think to me, humour in these paintings, this absurdity that you see around is a...kind of a... I mean, also in my life generally. You know, humour is this self defence mechanism. And I've noticed it like...it doesn't mean I'm not serious!
Jenny Eden But that's intertwined...that's what we are talking about isn't it? This kind of conjoined, serious/silly.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, it's seriously ridiculous. Or ridiculously serious.
Jenny Eden Yeah, which we have talked about before in the context of contemporary philosophy in Metamodernism.
Parham Ghalamdar Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah, oscillating between the two.
Jenny Eden Yeah, it's a paradox of two different things happening at the same time.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Jenny Eden I think that's kind of...
Parham Ghalamdar Like a pendulum. It goes back and forth. And I would love to. I usually, in my writings like when I'm reflecting, I usually describe it as this love and hate relationship because I go back, go back and forth with love and hate relationship, which is not just in the paintings, but I'm actually living this relationship with a lot of things like. I think I when I explain it to my friends. They all say they have the same kind of feelings. You know, I have this love and hate relationship with my nationality and with my...with the nation that I come from...with Iran and with, with a lot of things. Yeah? We have this so its the same with the painting. I think it's just it just looks into the painting. I think, you know, it's there is this love and hate relationship in there. There's this paradox. There's this humour. And.
Jenny Eden You can hate the painting, you know?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, you can.
Jenny Eden Things can go wrong.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Oh, my God. Exactly.
Jenny Eden It doesn't sit right.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, I know.
Jenny Eden It doesn't go on wrong right.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah, that's right. It happens a lot.
Parham Ghalamdar It happens a lot that I'm painting something then I just I'm so frustrated that it's not getting anywhere. And I just put it... Build a table not to see it! Then I paint...I put the table below the table and then it's just um...
Jenny Eden Tables all over tables
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. It's a it's a painting of a table below a table.
Jenny Eden Underneath a table.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar And then I go back to it in a few months or weeks or whatever to to kind of further it and see if I can find a solution to this. You know, it's... It is a love and hate relationship basically. Yeah.
Jenny Eden Going back to some of the things in the painting. And you were talking about arrows just now you know, it's interesting to hear that some of your background is in thinking, or studying. Engineering.
Parham Ghalamdar Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Jenny Eden Engineering and mathematics.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden I can see we have talked about life cycles and kind of journeying.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden And making sense, through um...things.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden Being led...or your eye being led... Around the painting.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. I got my diploma in mathematics and physics and back in Iran. It's just it's not the Iranian thing specifically, I'm sure a lot of families are like that. Um that they expect the child to be engineer, doctor, lawyer. You know..."artists are amazing, but not as my children!" So there's this idea of trying to protect the children through this. So, you know, I got my diploma in mathematics and physics. And at the time I was thinking about studying chemistry, engineering and working in the oil fields. It's just. And then and then I went to the art school. And...even when I went to the art university, I was studying, studying engineering, printing and media. It was about bridging graphic design and printing industry. And then when I came here, I started studying fine art. But from the beginning, from when I was 12, 15. I had this... I have this background in graffiti and, you know, street art and vandalism and all that kind of stuff, which is a paradox itself. But so yeah, I have this obsession and this background with, you know, with the land there, you know, being reasonable, math and you know, this uh, I have this background, yeah definitely.
Jenny Eden Because we, we, we were going to talk about...we can't not talk about colour!
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah!
Jenny Eden But we um...were thinking..we've been thinking about the colour in relation to, some of the things that you're interested in. And I dont know if you want to talk about...
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah.
Jenny Eden it's that kind of acidic...you mentioned acidic... intense...kind of, it's so hightened...
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden ...incredible colour alongside darker spaces, moodier areas...
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. I think you know if if in the old days, older days like, for example one of my influences - Caravaggio paintings and that the colour scheme is what the nature has to offer to Caravaggio. I... How he heightens the contrast of his... But if that's coming from nature, you know...to me the colour scheme is provided by animations and cartoons and um...the digital space.
Jenny Eden You've got a really wide knowledge about that kind of graphic arts and cartoon and animation havent you?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden From the early days.
Parham Ghalamdar Yes. Oh, yeah. The cartoons. I mean, like all the way from Max Fleischer and nineteen thirties all the way to the contemporary ones obviously as the more contemp... The more current it gets... Animation...the more colours are saturated and everything becomes really wild and psychedelic.
Parham Ghalamdar Um. And... and a lot of my contemporary influences also are also deeply rooted in animation like the new Leipzig School of Art...they...like Neo Rauch and Tilo Baumgartel, for instance, specifically these two also borrow a lot from videogames and comics and stuff.
Parham Ghalamdar And you know, you get a bit, you know, if you go a bit like back a bit back, like, the Hairy Who Collective of 1960s in America, Chicago... so it's, it's.... a lot of my....Yeah. A lot of the colours are borrowed from animations a lot of times.
Parham Ghalamdar Um.
Parham Ghalamdar And also, you know, and I... You know, my generation, the new generations growing up, growing up with tablets and in front of TV and the Internet and everything. So it's, it's....we're constantly seeing the, you know, these these colour schemes and...way more than nature!
Parham Ghalamdar And um... so that's where it comes from. But also, I'm also very much interested in colour palettes of, you know, socialist realist paintings and posters as well, um...which is also another conversation we could have. Um...yeah, but that's that's where the colours come from. But, you know, when I'm painting..., again, these aren't influences when i'm painting. I'm not thinking about these influences. I'm, I'm thinking about what colour could, would work in there in the painting. What needs to be there? What needs to be there? Not... Not what I want to be there.
Jenny Eden Yeah, exactly. So it's not responsive um... relationship.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. yeah. There's an ocean between these two: what I want to what I need. It's... I'm not trying to do what I want in there. I am looking for what what it actually needs to be there to work. So it would guide the eye and get you involved a bit more.
Jenny Eden I think also its so interesting and important in painting this kind of this intension you might have. Yeah. Which, you know, some painters maybe. I mean, it starts with colour. It starts with some kind of sense aura, or something. Or a, or a thing you're going to put in a painting and then, and then it's like when that... Or a photograph! Or... and its when the kind of intentional, the subject matter,starting-off-point thing...kinda leaves or, or doesn't. And then...then the responsive kind of relationship kicks in.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, so it's it's it's interesting because, you know, it kind of goes back to the idea of perception because, you know, it's it's first and foremost you perceiving the painting and which also what's what's what...bounds us. I mean, what bounds artists to non-artists. Um you know so the painter is perceiving and trying to paint it where there is... there is a process... Cezanne's doubt is basically about this idea that I, I am trying to, you know, transfer my sensation experience from existence onto canvas. And how could I make sure it happens, actually happens. How could I make sure the audience actually receives that, right? It's about contemplating this idea. And also, if that's that's what bounds the artist to non-artists in terms of, you know: we all perceive, we're all trying to....first and formost understand our existence through seeing, right? So it's ...that's, that's where the artists and non-artists bound to each other. And that's where I think the sociality of painting kicks in.
Jenny Eden You've talked about, a lot about that before. do you want to say something about sociality?
Parham Ghalamdar Because, you know, when I think when you walk into this studio, when you're painting in the studio, you're into.... I mean, to me, it feels like the studio is like a materialized version of your own mind! Like you walk into the studio and you're in this isolated bubble forming ideas and doing stuff and there is little sociality to it. I would say...
Jenny Eden Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar It's very isolated.
Jenny Eden Very isolated kind of experience, isn't it? And i dont know about you but, when you first start being a painter, kind of not aware of that. Yeah, exactly. Although... Although you maybe spend your youth painting in your bedroom and then you go into uni or whatever and you realise that you still need...even though you got all these people around you, you still need this kind of isolation to make this kind of work.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar So it's. Yeah. That's so it's necessary to make a painting, to work and contemplate the painting.
Jenny Eden ....with the sort of work your making.
Parham Ghalamdar But, but then I'm always thinking how could painting... Where does the sociality kick in? Yeah? When does it become sociable? How... What, what are the limitations to it? How sociable could it become? Right? And I'm always, I'm always trying to test it. See how could that work? And what are the borders to blur the edges to it? And I'm always... So, so... so this... That in one layer there's, there's sociality to it because um...perception is this idea that we are all experiencing existence through perception, at, at some level. So there is something to talk about that, there is something to you know...contemplate and we're all here to see things. Right?
Jenny Eden And I think that the paintings in their kind of radiant colour and I want to talk about marks as well in a minute...But this... The content of the paintings, this kind of...certain things are kind of known and then there's an ambiguity and there's... ah um... an interest. There's something that brings you to the paintings.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden And it could very well bring a group of people to the painting. And in a way that's sociable isnt it.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden It's kind of. The paintings that, that want to seemingly generate an audience...to be looked at, to be engaged with, to be considered...
Parham Ghalamdar ...as things to look at. Organised things to look at rather than something chaotic. Right? And and I'm thinking, you know and then I'm very interested in socialist realism which also influences the colour palettes a lot. And.. I'm interested in that, not in the s... That it's not necessarily Soviet socialist realism...
Jenny Eden And that was something you wanted to point out!,
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, because when you say Socialist Realism, the first thing, the first label that is attached to it is Soviet socialism realism. Socialist Realism.... A painting that is concerned with sociality in reality has existed way before the Soviet Union. So...and, and I'm very interested in how painting as a vehicle could, you know, could mobilise society as well. Right. Which is about testing how sociable painting could get. Right? So. So it's...that's one layer. That's another layer to it.
Parham Ghalamdar um.... But then. Yeah. But back to the back to the...going back to the, you know, marks. And making marks and you said and you know...
Jenny Eden These marks kind of in some of the paintings, these are especially I keep obviously looking at Spector, behind you just there.
Parham Ghalamdar oh yeah.
Jenny Eden Which is. And some of the others, I think more recent paintings in your studio - we looked at the other day...these, this um painted mark. That's kind of like string or... Well, exactly. It's got a kind of presence of a thing. Yeah, it's got this kind of...quality of an object.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden Still using the paint and the brush strokes to make, to make a thing. Is that something more recent in the practice?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. I would say, yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar It's, it's interesting this...you know Henri Matisse has this quote. I'm just paraphrasing...
Parham Ghalamdar He says like you know, the same way that a person could take on different roles as...different roles and play different characters, the same way an object could take on different roles in different paintings. And, you know, a brush stroke is a thing itself. It has physicality, it has material and it's a thing itself. So, you know, the brush stroke could take on different roles itself. Maybe? You saw it. You put a brush stroke. It's an idea about colour. You put another one, it's an idea about shape. You put another one. It could be an idea about light and shadow and colour, value or whatever.
Parham Ghalamdar And some of the painters recently, the brush stroke itself is becoming...
Jenny Eden It's taken on a... it has an agency.
Parham Ghalamdar yes has, an agency, has a character to it.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, it has a personality to it.
Jenny Eden And that's what I mean. When I was thinking about the work, getting ready for the talk, I'm thinking about this kind of um... Gooeyness, of some of the marks, or the hacked, hacked-on-ness, um...
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah,.
Jenny Eden That... Especially that, that one behind you with the, with the fist.
Parham Ghalamdar Oh, my God yeah.
Jenny Eden And then this kind of horrible like, sick-like goo.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, yeah. Yeah. .
Jenny Eden ...that was dripping. And how incredible it is that you got these this, um mean feeling like this...ughhh! From, from the painter mark. You know that's, that's pretty powerful.
Parham Ghalamdar So it's interesting that this specific reference you brought up... When I, when I add um wax to it, wax to the paint. It kind of blurs the, kind of pushes the painting towards the experience of sculpture. It kind of blurs the line between painting and sculpture, because it's....when you add wax, it won't be fluid anymore. It won't move. You can't you cannot move the paint around easily. Um.. It won't slide. And so it becomes sculptural. And it also, interestingly, you will have you will increase the control over the paint, over the material. So it's kind of also... you...you're more in control. And, you know, maybe it's, it's again, maybe my obsession with being in control of the situation. You know, being, you know, putting things into order. You know, um boxing things. Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar Structure... categorizing, you know,.
Jenny Eden Just the way that so many things... Things are propped, things that kind of sitting on, pointing...
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah.
Jenny Eden Um yeah... pouring out, like thing... Yeah. I think that there's a kind of sense of control. And then there's this allowance of, of paint. To do what it needs to do.
Parham Ghalamdar Yes.
Jenny Eden What it can do.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden On a surface, which I think it's something uh, something we talked about was these um... These rather rather lovely kind of backdrops. Some of these paintings. And we were talking about the way that in a lot of them there isn't kind of a definite horizon.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, yeah yeah...
Jenny Eden Kind of like we talked about non-place and non-space.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah.
Jenny Eden And I remember I was thinking about this kind of a green screen.
Parham Ghalamdar Yes. Yes.
Jenny Eden Like a video... take a.. a film. So um yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. It's em... It's so. Yeah. It looks so. Everything looks so staged. Which also it's, not just in terms of subject matter that I'm like talking about, Marc Fisher and all this stuff like disaster being planned and it's just beside the subject. You know, if we if you think about the history of painting. All through the Renaissance painting was this beautifully constructed lie. It was just beautifully constructed window to a, to another space. Right. So it was it was staging a window. It was a fake window. Right. So it was being staged. A reality was being staged. Right. Which is the exact. Which is the which is the. I believe it's the fundamental difference between Western art and Eastern art, because Western Art we have this beautifully constructed space in front of you. The space is in front of you. Right? It's a window. But in, for instance like Persian miniature or Indian miniature or Japanese miniature. If you go towards the east, these illustrations are um... They have this isometric sense of perspective to them, meaning that you're looking as if, as if you're looking from the viewpoint of the God, as if you're the God or you're a... Because you're different, you're your distance with everything in the illustration is the same. So you are everywhere in this illustration. You see everything in the illustration. You're everywhere. And you... You're part of the space. You're a part of that space, as the audience. You're not in... the space is not in front of you, you're a part of it. So it's a very different way of um... Experiencing your existence I would say for perception, right? It's a very different notion of existing and perceiving and um. So it's I think painting is a special type of oil painting and classic paintings, you know, painting... is this thing being staged? Right? And I was I was kind of um...playing, you know, played around this idea that something staged again. But there are references that breaks the fourth wall. And, you know, it's staged. We will not be fooled - as if you're the director of that film that is happening. That thing that is happening, you're the director of that event.
Jenny Eden Who's you? Are you the painter or...?
Parham Ghalamdar You the painter , you the audience. Or maybe I'm reminding everyone that this is a stage. This is a... you know breaking the fourth wall, letting you know that, don't believe whatever you see, these things.
Jenny Eden And it could have happened.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, which might. I don't know, which might. You might be able to link it to the idea of fake news today. Like not everything you see is real. A lot of it is staged. So I think there was a very good quote from Mark Twain. I think he said, oh, god, I can't remember it exactly. But it was something like "truth is more stranger than fiction", which is very true these days. Like it's ridiculous. Like, would... lot of crazy, absurd things are happening around us.
Jenny Eden And now going back to some of the things you said at the beginning. This kind of political awareness.
Parham Ghalamdar Oh, yeah.
Jenny Eden Your homeland and then here and other places in the world. And you kind of link... These things are kind of embodied.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden In the painting.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, I see. Yeah. So, you know, it's you know, as it just like anyone else I have. I'm you know, I'm worried about things. I follow the news. I, I study about it. So it's kind of you know, these are all materials to paint about. But, you know, I don't want to be... I don't want to struggle with subject matter to paint about. So I kind of just bring, you know, these interests. But again, like when I'm painting, I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about the language of painting, I would say, or or in another way.... Maybe I'm thinking about light. I'm thinking about painting as this vehicle called to kind of carry those interests. But again, if you don't know how to ride that, vehicle it won't work. So you need to be very aware of the language of painting and the history of painting and the traditions of painting. And you need to stand up on the shoulders of the giants. You really cannot. You cannot, you cannot do it all by yourself. If you, if you, if you want to, you know, if you want to use a material that has a tradition to it and you don't want to acknowledge that tradition, why would you use that tool anyway? You could use some other tools.
Jenny Eden This is an important thing to think about in contemporary painting.
Parham Ghalamdar Oh, my God. Yeah.
Jenny Eden You know, in the developments that we've seen in painting in the last forty years or so...um... The way that your... the work kind of contains that investment in looking at historical painting.
Or at least |'m trying to do it because it's a very strange context. You know, it's so the way we are studying painting here. I mean, I'm not talking about East Europe and Asia and all those other places. Talk about here right now. The way we learn painting is not through sitting around studio, around the master and everyone copying the still life or whatever and the master going around them, teaching everyone. It's not like that. So we have tutorials with the tutor and then we have to study in our own isolated space. So. So the way I'm learning these traditions and histories is a very archaeological experience. And I'm digging deep through these history books bringing out... things, yeah, and and just like archaeology, you won't you will never manage to bring out the whole thing. I don't have such a training. Right. So what was I'm picking out traditions here and there, which again goes back to the idea of metamodernism as well, so I'm picking out things and trying to use these archaeological artefacts that I'm discovering from history of painting, I would say, so it's a very strange archaeological experience to learn these traditions today in, in such a context.
Jenny Eden Yeah, yeah. or what brought together with some of those maybe more contemporary.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Jenny Eden Cultural.
Parham Ghalamdar That's because you know you do that. That's the thing. So you don't, you won't get oldest traditions and histories completely and comprehensively. There will be gaps and voids that you will fill them with whatever you have around yourself you're experiencing around yourself. So it becomes a very contemporary, very current, very new thing. And maybe that's why...maybe that's even better than having this whole thing from the history, because if, if you're trying to copy and produce something that has been done before, you're basically decontextualizing it because all those classical paintings are, were made in a specific context.
Jenny Eden Time and environment and a developmental response to what had gone before, yes.
Parham Ghalamdar If you're going to produce the same thing, then copy the same thing. You're decontextualizing it and decontextualizing something...if you take something out of its historical narrative, er, you're kind of distorting it, and when you're distorting it, you're devaluing it basically. So it's it's it's actually it might be actually a better approach to have this archeological experience that you get what you can understand and what you think you need. You borrow what you need. And then, then fill the gap with other things.
Jenny Eden Which which kind of speaks of innate temperality. Doesn't it.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden Kind of erm, pulling in from various times, different traditions of painting. Yeah. Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar and again going back to the metamodernism it oscillates between two things. It goes back and forth. Yeah.
Jenny Eden Yeah. That kind of um, that opposition.
Parham Ghalamdar Yes.
Jenny Eden All those the multitude of things. But then everything is bouncing off each other.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah. Yes.
Jenny Eden Yeah. Yeah. So um, going back to the socialism or the sociality, you talk of it like the sociality of painting. Which I think is a really interesting word that um...to describe what your talking about. I think almost because we've thought about this before the talk... but I think sitting in here in the space.Theres kind of there's some kind of social thing happening with the paintings, things they're kind of talking about the bounce, they're kind of radiating and bouncing around with each other and then going back to the things that we talked about at the beginning, this kind of this kind of explosion that's happening on the walls with the drawings. This kind of, um, things that make me think about um, relationships and...between paintings, between the painting and the wall, between me and all these kind of activities that are happening in the room. Yeah, but this is something that you want to pursue, isn't it? It's kind of, its almost like a quest, or some sort of um... Yeah you've written about this.
Parham Ghalamdar So, yeah, I think I think it's it's that there is definitely a sociality to painting. And, um you know, it's it goes back to the idea of how individual to individuality on what on what level this individuality should know on what level the sociality should be and um...especialy that's in the academia. I'm experiencing this a lot that people, like art, students, kind of bank and invest on just personal emotions to paint about um... They just, they just paint about like what they feel. And it kind of...you cut out the social part of it, the sociality of it. It becomes this individualist practice. And the problem with that is that, you know, so painting is this live medium, right? When we're saying it's embodied, it means that you are kind of recording all the time that you are painting. Right?
Jenny Eden ...so in that way, it's. Yeah. Tangible.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. It's a live medium. You're kind of recording information during the time. You're stretching the time. So it's exactly the opposite of photography. Photography is a slice of a time. Right. But the painting is stretched.
Jenny Eden To close it.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. So the problem with banking and investing on your emotions as a subject of painting is that feelings fade away super quick because feelings and emotions are results of these um, you know, electric pulses in your mind and chemical interactions in your body that could be different from minute to minute. Right. So so painting is not even actually the right medium to capture the feelings and emotions, basically. All right?
Parham Ghalamdar So from, from experiencing the painting as a final product, you obviously get some feelings and emotions. But it's not for recording all those emotions you have doing the painting. And you cannot force yourself to constantly feel love or hate or whatever. When you're painting, you cannot constantly force yourself to. So it's it's so there is you know, there is this um... And it's not,it's not really there is individuality to them. But onto a certain level, there's sociality to it on a certain level... And it's// I think it's a matter of kind of exploring to see how far each could go in the...
Jenny Eden Balance.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Maybe balanc is a....
Jenny Eden So I think this thing I mean it's something that's kind of I know in my research its coming into that, it's very much a kind of dialogue or um...something within contemporary painting that is is deeply psychological again now. So people are kind of painting from a direct psychological position maybe about something of their own psychology. But it's, it's how that's how that's fed into the painting and how it's kind of collectively received... I know we talked about kind of, a kind of collective perception um... And because it kind of needs to speak to an audience doesn't it.... So I think when it works, it kind of um... It kind of allows the receiver to to bring their things to the painting and then meet what's being shared with them. And then kind of collectively understand something about the human condition. So um..., you know, I saw a really great show at the Hepworth recently by Christina Quarles and she is a contemporary painter from America talking about living in a body and painting um from her own position. And you know, she's talking about her psychology, but looking at it, I could I could feel a kind of an understanding of being the person. So I think that's when it, it kind works well. And that's in a way that's, that's got...there's a social element to that.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, definitely.
Parham Ghalamdar There is definitely a sociality to painting. It's not, it's not this isolated thing happening in a cave. But it's, that's the thing. So. Maybe my interest with, you know, socialist realism maybe my, my interest with New Leipzig school of art and, you know, New Leipzig was this product of DDR and East Germany in communism. Which is a bit problematic because now it's... Now they are the superstars of figurative European art. Yeah. How does that work? And so it's maybe my interest with these things. Goes back to the idea of sociality... that.... How could you? In what directions? On on what levels could you push the sociality in painting? All right. And then lots of links. Just speaking of New Leipzig school. Maybe my my interest with them is that I see echoes of my background in their context as well, because like, you know, I was always, always interested with them that, oh, my God, these were these guys grew up in DDR and experienced that atmosphere like they are the children of revolution and blahh blahh blahh. This romantic ideas. Right. But then I was thinking about my own background and I was thinking that, you know, I, I grew up in Iran - a revolutionary state. A, a failed revolutionary state, basically... And I have experienced being surrounded by propaganda, which is how art started for me, basically, I, I started I stepped into the, into the realm of art and creativity by... I mean consciously deciding to do it, not, not...I mean, we all do paintings and drawings when we are children but... but consciously stepping into it... Was that ah.. Was when I was trying to respond to propaganda and the brutal environments that I was surrounded by in... In Iran. And I was, I was kind of my appropriate response at the time was graffiti and vandalism and, you know, street art and those type of things.
Jenny Eden And I guess that's external as well in the space.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden In your kind of surroundings.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. you know that was very. You know, that's a very social thing. There's a social comment on on the urban environment. Right. And there's thousands of those. So. Yeah. So so I I had this like, you know, maybe that's why I'm interesting with New Leipzig school but like this in this context, this background. But um. But then yeah. But then here what's happening here is completely different from that. Even though the only similarity between the whole thing. Is is the tool the spraypaint. But but...
Jenny Eden Which is how you've made the drawings.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. The drawings. This is... I don't see these as graffiti drawings...
Jenny Eden You dont. You see them. You see them as drawings.
Parham Ghalamdar I see them as drawings with spray paint.
Parham Ghalamdar So because it's a very different context, you know, I think if I think if you take the context of graffiti back, you when ... it's in the street, it's called graffiti. Because of, because of, because of it. Because it's challenging that authority and... It it has that context, I think you take that context from it. Not, not everything created, created with spray painted on the walls is graffiti. I don't see it that way.
Jenny Eden There's that, that transition thats happened for you in the work that you make from that kind of um...you mentioned vandalism and kind of spraying on the wall in your kind of surrounding space... to then, to then working on a stretcher. Having the work in a gallery... this kind of Institution of the gallery space and all the, the kind of history and the dialogue around the white cube. You.. you kind of disrupted that havent you I suppose, with this um... um... Happening...on the wall in which.. In which you almost brought something of, something of a previous experience to th....to this but in that you're seeing it through the lens of a contemporary artist and thinking of it as drawing.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. I'm not ah... I'm not... I'm not ashamed of my background or what I've done in previous practice. I don't... I'm not resistant to it. I'm just you know, I feel like that was the right response in that context. It's not the right response right now. Right? So um... It hasn't... And also, I'm I'm still...I'm not interested anymore in... I'm not interested in producing graffiti anymore, but I'm very much interested in writing about it and reinterpreting what was happening and... Which I'm doing. I'm writing on this subject. But, um, and, um, I have upcoming projects about it. But, um, but yeah. And obviously, um, you know, I have the skills and these ideas and these tools, I have these tools that I can bring to the context of painting, you know, and there are different ways of painting. Yeah, obviously there are different ways of painting, perceiving and observing, even though to each of these ways there's a good observation... There's a bad observation... there's accuracy and inaccuracy. But there are different ways of painting and drawing and perhaps having spray paint and spraying paint could be a way of painting, maybe? If... If if if if it's contemplated, and it's if it's the right reason. You know, it's the right moment, the right moment.
Jenny Eden The setting.
Parham Ghalamdar Yes the setting. If if you stage it properly. Stage it properly!
Jenny Eden Yeah. Which is what you have kind of done here, you've staged this haven't you?
Parham Ghalamdar yeah.
Parham Ghalamdar Yes. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. If you stage it properly. It could be a part of painting, obviously.
Jenny Eden And I think that's what's so interesting about the work is there's a kind of um staging. And a falling away or a disruption or a.... This... there's the paradox between something quite formed and something giving way or allowing a space.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden ...of interpretation. Yeah.
Jenny Eden Okay.
Parham Ghalamdar Was there anything else you wanted to ask?
Jenny Eden I don't know I think that's eh... i dont know how long we been going for? I think we've cov..., I think we've covered the things we were thinking about talking about... Yeah! So I don't know if anyone's got questions?
Parham Ghalamdar Come on ask questions, Otherwise i wont be paid haha!
Is there a psychological space that you have talked about? You know, I love the way that the grafitti sets one layer of that and the space in the paintings is another one. I've been looking all these skys and thinking there's no clouds - this isn't like Manchester!
Parham Ghalamdar Oh, my God. Yeah.
Is it like you talk about being in digital space?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
... relate to media and animation and all that. But is it also that you think... you know you talk about orthographic Perspective. I feel like the kind of architectural elements like the sky and the table top... They feel like that kind of space. Is this the space of Iran? Or is it?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, that's a very good question.
I'm interested in that.
Parham Ghalamdar It's it's certainly...
You talk about western art all the time.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
I wonder whether there is another dynamic...Wh....where is this space? Like...
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. That's. I could talk about that on so many levels. There's this famous thing about Manchester that there is only...there are the two seasons in Manchester. It's either July or it's raining! So it's yeah...
Jenny Eden And you were just saying on the way over. Like um... Yeah I mean, we got out of the train station and it's not raining here...
Parham Ghalamdar And I was like: Oh my God! It's amazing... It's just windy! Yeah the weather... it's obviously...
Parham Ghalamdar It's, it's it's an interesting question, because if I show you the paintings that Im' working on right now in the studio, it does have the grey, cloudy skies now. It's kicking in, it's kicking in now!
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, but but um... What are these skies? These are not skies. These are backdrops. These are backdrops. Backdrops of.. That's how I wish the weather was in Manchester! It's not the actual sky...Yeah but but like for instance, that like that painting over there, the sticks and that like spring kind of... You, you can feel the fresh freeze of the morning in there. And...That was like when I was really missing spring in Iran. Yeah. Which later on was picked up by a electronic music band in New York and it became the cover of their album, which they're Iranian-American. Yeah the trees with sticks. Yeah. Yeah.
Audience Member That haze!
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah that's the edge of the spring. Yeah. You can, you can see thewet grass in there as well. So like it's... Yeah. I dont know. As...as a, as a person who has spent 21 years in Iran, the springs in Iran are very special. And then, you know, I do kind of miss that weather. But, it's I don't...you know, we have bigger problems to be concerned about right now, with Brexit and everything, we have bigger things to be worries about rather than the weather.
Parham Ghalamdar And but yeah, I feel it's just something that, you know, you've you kind of miss that sunny weather and maybe it kicks in from there because we are all we know we are hostages of us, you know, our time and circumstances and our context. So you cannot escape that if you miss the spring and if you miss sunny weather, you cannot weather that you cannot escape that feeling it will kick in some how!
Jenny Eden So with this painting do you think that...that initial intention was about something to do with that.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. That was the beginning of it basically.
Jenny Eden It was. It was.
Parham Ghalamdar But then those sticks don't have much to do with it. So that was a beginning of it. But then the painting is about... Basically... About perception, because you see something...you're below, you see below of something. You see th...of the above something. You see something in the front. You see something way at the back. So it's about looking...that painting is about looking, not Spring. Spring is just a...excuse to tap into the subject... to tap into the painting, maybe... To tap into that you know.. mood and just just finish.... Just go on and you know just just a just an excuse to finish the painting.
Audience Member Yeah. It seems like a lot of those kind of ah...layers...seen beneath the surface of the... This kind of fake ground. I really like this cut out fire with an edge like its made of cardboard or something. yeah it's a....an illustration of an object, a thing.... which you can't really describe fire. I think it's great these layers upon layers.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah! That's the great thing about painting. That you can have so many layers to it. Right? But also like...also in that painting, you see an object that is holding its own weight, like, you know, the roots it's holding itself.
Audience Member Yeah You can play... with that.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. So...so. Yeah. There are so many layers to it. And I'm sure if you bring in...I dont know someone who knows psychology. They would say things about these paintings of my personality that even I don't know, maybe, you know what I mean? So there are all these hidden layers and then obviously...
Audience Member Does anythign come from your dreams? Do you use your dreams?
Parham Ghalamdar no no not from dreams, really, no! I don't, I don't... I don't dream these haha! No that's, I don't know. I just don't usually, my imagination is so vivid! There is....there is... There will be no turn for dreams. It's just I dream in reality, I'm dreaming... dreaming in reality. It's just I don't know. I've never thought about painting dreams.
Jenny Eden I think about like, the...the paintings kind of hold an unconscious. Because they hold it, they hold... The unconcious is pressent all the time.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Jenny Eden Its kind of in the work and you dont have to describe it, or explain it away it just kind of helps the work.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, definitely a lot of stuff in these paintings. It was just, you know, definitely... I'm, I'm trying to be in control. I'm trying to put things into order. But obviously, you know, a lot of things might be happening that I'm un-unconscious of them.
Audience Member The time frame for all the work - you said it all started in February 2019. Do you work on, loads of them seperately? Well... and dip in and out of them?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, I use a lot of siccative, which is a drying agent. And, um, I just use a lot of that and then.. And because... Basically because I use turpentine a little bit, I do it just in the first layers maybe. So I use a lot of linseed oil, so I need a drying agent to make sure it dries. And um, and I yeah I paint... I... There are usually eight paintings, nine, ten... I don't know. Some... Something around there... Like some numbers of paintings around the studio that I go in between them and just work on them and um, yeah. Yeah.
Audience Member And when you return to one painting do you just think about that story or whatever's emerging in that, just responding to that painting in that moment. It must be very dangerous to carry ideas between them.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. That's a very interesting thing you said because I usually think that... So if I'm... so you know, it's just like you make bigger decisions as you go towards the end of the painting, you make little decisions, slower decisions, and smaller decisions. So if..if I've made a terrible mistake in the first layers and I wasn't aware of it or I dismissed it for whatever reason and I went towards the end of the painting, I don't go back to clean it up and make it right. I try to make it right in the next painting. So there is this idea I...I have this idea all the time that maybe...I feel like I'm painting the same painting every time. I'm just trying to do it better every time. There is this weird idea to this painting...
Audience Member You know these two right? ...They're both a fire scene, staged...
Parham Ghalamdar I have, I have that weird feeling about paintings and I'm constantly trying to do it better every time...it's the same painting. It's just being done better. Try.... I try to further it. You know, it's this strange idea to painting.
Audience Member Is there is the relationship um...to... you talked a little bit about the psychological underpinnings ... potential psychological readings of your work. If a psychologist came in they might reveal certain things... I'm very interested in obviously, having worked with you, written your press release for the show the little Biog. Which is kind of a very compressed history of you.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Miles Thurlow And I can't escape that...when I look at your work, and think I sort of think about the... you know this kind of...what I would consider to be very traumatic experience. And now...here you are making work. I see all of them in relation to that. I just wondered about that if you experience it like that or not or is that just normal to you.
Parham Ghalamdar That's true, because it's...back in Iran, it doesn't matter what classes of society you come from. It doesn't matter how rich or poor you are. It doesn't matter how educated or knowledged you are. Back into Iran the moment you step out of your house, you risk not coming back that night. It's a ridiculous place. Iran is this really crazy place... And umm, crazy stuff might happen. And just by... you know anything has a high risk to it, like any decision you make out there. Right? And um.. It's just you know, it's just people...we all know it's all over the news. I don't need to really talk about it. So there is...I've been having a lot..of, a lot of all of this coming from where I have been having traumatic experiences with a lot of things. So there is definitely this trauma. And that's why I said maybe humour is you know, to me humour is this...um... there is a real function to humour. It's a self-defence mechanism. I don't decide to make a joke. You know what? I don't plan a joke. I'm not a comedian. It's...it's not.. It's not a carrier to...for me to sit down and write jokes. As...you know, I don't come up with jokes and humour, absurdity in the paintings. And...it happens because the moment I drop this, I've just.... even in real life when I, when I drop my sense of humour...things become too much to cooperate with. Right? And I think a lot of people are like...don't need necessarily to be Iranian to be like that. but um... I don't and I don't decide to, you know, have humour I decide to be serious. But I don't decide to be humorous and ah... It's, it's a ridiculous thing! and it's um... And it's more of, you know, it's more of a... I'm, I'm.... I find... I always find the myth of sisyphus a very easy example to tap into the subject and talk about this, because, you know,Sisyphus is, you know, punished by taking this stone up the hill and then again and again and again. And there's an absurdity to it. And. But what's interesting is that he protests an absurdity by continuing it, not by resigning. Right? So I, I see the act of painting similar, every time that which goes back to the same thing you, asked. Like I said, like I feel like I paint the same painting over and over. It's feels like I'm carrying that stone like Sisyphus every time to the top of hill, each time better than before. There is this this absurdity, this kind of um...you know, this um... You know...
Audience Member It's not exactly the same... because....You never do make the same painting.
Jenny Eden No, and Sisyphus didn't either....
Parham Ghalamdar No I don't, I don't copy the painting in the same way because I think that devaluates the painting. But I just, I just think it's a nice metaphor to kind of tap into the subject and talk about absurdity and humour in painting. I'm not saying it's exactly the same. I just find it...
Audience Member The problem is you couldn't.. it's like...
Parham Ghalamdar No. No. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Jenny Eden But Sisyphus tried to push that boulder up in loads of different ways you know. So its kind of the right metaphour isn't it? But the way that you throw yourself into contemporary painting in the art school. And all this kind of um... dialogue and just the investigation is kind of dealing with in some way the trauma or moving away from the trauma or...
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, definitely. You know, we... We are all subjected to the time we live in. I cannot expect that I escaped that. I cannot escape the fact that I'm Iranian, that there might be another pull to it that I go back and forth, because to be honest, I've always felt terribly outsider even back in Iran and among Iranians. I'm not, I'm not this fully Iranian persom. And, you know, it's not it's not that's not the only thing I am. Right? So there is, there is another pull to this pendulum. Right? So it's... There is definitely trauma in there. But it's not all about the trauma. It's not I'm, I'm more than I'm not just Iranian, I'm more than that, right?. So that's the thing, there is trauma, but that's not all trauma and I'm not this traumatic... Yeah. It's just yeah It's all that is...
Audience Member I was gunna say I like how you display real problems in the world in cartoon.
Parham Ghalamdar That's an interesting thing because I...the aesthetics do go back and forth between cartoon and realism, which goes back to the metamodernism and aesthetics in the paint, that there is a real that there is a sense of lighting and shadow and texture. And, you know, there is a life of...there is a sense of realism. But, but but sometimes it fails. Sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes it works. Sometimes. Sometimes that part is saturated. Sometimes it's more realistic. And then on the others and there's the other pull is that it's this graphical kind of 2D flat kind of space. And I and I obviously look at video games a lot. I find it interesting, especially like video games from the late 1980s, 1990s. And then they were remade today and how these graphics suddenly...the transition between the graphics that something completely 8bit and 2D and flat...and then you have this fairly 3D, three dimensional, really well rendered space of the same game. So how does it suddenly I find that very interesting to look at. I mean, we're all surrounded by video games. This is so interesting thing that it's oscillating between the two aesthetics. But sometime, you know, each of them could be more saturated each time...
Parham Ghalamdar Anything else?
Audience Member I was gunna say that um... A lot of the paintings, your painting looking down.
Parham Ghalamdar Oh my God Yeah!
Audience Member There's quite a voyeristic approach to them...and I was wondering also about the like filmic like angles within the work and... oh my god so many questions.... and also um... quite a lot of them feel like dated Sci-Fi.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Audience Member Is there that sort of influences in the work as well?
Parham Ghalamdar That's a very interesting thing that you ask, because like I usually have paintings on easel and, and and the paintings are really low. So I'm actually looking down at the canvas and the painting looks like looks like a toy or looks like a book or just object that you could pick up and look at. So that's a interesting thing you mentioned. So sometimes I look at the painting as if I'm this God modelling this world in there. It's an interesting thing.... Maybe it's because of that.
Jenny Eden And I wonder what would happen if you put your canvas up high? Suddenly you're looking...
Parham Ghalamdar That's the next thing I'm going to do. That's the next thing when I get back to the studio, put the paintings as high as I can.
Jenny Eden In your studio right now you actually have got paintings on the wall like this.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, yeah, yeah,.
Jenny Eden So your painting on the wall as well aren't you. Have you noticed there's been change in the voyeuristic um the angle of the...
Parham Ghalamdar Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jenny Eden The activity that you're looking on.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Exactly, exactly. Because the paintings now that I have.... It. It's more in front of me rather than being below, yeah.
Jenny Eden Thats a really good point.
Parham Ghalamdar That was a good observation. Yeah. It's yeah that's that's probably the reason. And also the subject matter that I was thinking about, you know, you always look down at the table, you're you're never in the same part of the table. So. So there is....there was this idea that something is being modelled you always look down to model it, there was this idea as well. But the painting was also really low when i was painting it.
Audience Member I have a really weird question the diagrammatic kind of landscapes, do you think of layer cakes- you know like rainbow cakes... Was that in your mind at all? Because I keep thinking of those cakes, you know the ones i mean?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Audience Member The ones with the intense colour tones.
Jenny Eden Do you know Battenburg cake? Battenburg?
Parham Ghalamdar I was...since I was a kid, I, I remember like I was... I really liked these diagrams of... these illustrations of, you know, Star Wars books that like the concept books of Star Wars film. And, you know, this they...., they are all diagrams of spaceships. And this is where the engineers of...this sort of thing. Yeah. I really like the diagrams always. And this also goes back to that, you know, obsession with order and reason and science and, you know, mechanics and this type of stuff that everything needs to be explained. and everything needs to.. That's so...When I came here when I brought the paintings and we wanted to curate them. I had this obsession. Miles, remember, I put the paintings with table on one side of the room, the paintings, without the table on the other side. I have this obsession with categorizing and boxing it, right. And then Miles came in and it was like "no what are you doing?" So suddenly there was this, you know what I mean so.... So maybe because also it's maybe it's also because, you know I'm joking obviously. But there was that I had this you know, maybe it also was because of the like the way I was thinking about it initially at the beginning was that, you know, also, the paintings.... so If you see each painting as a dialogue.... So... The dialogues were done for me, or the dialogues were ended for me. Right? And then I was you know, we we humans are the only creatures on planet that we archive things to feel like we now we know what now we know what this is now and we're done until the next generation comes and discovers this and reinterpreted it. Right? So I have I have this idea have maybe I had this idea with the paintings... So these paintings are done and they are going to be archived and documented through the show and then we will be done with them. So we put the ones with the table here with the ones with the... So I had this archival approach to it, maybe so, maybe that's where all these other influences come from with diagrams as well. The diagram is that now we know what this is. Now it's explained. Now we know which is a very you know, human basic feeling like that's like, you know, the first humans were like everyone, everyone, the cave. What we don't know what that is in the sky. Then a little bit later we were like.... no wait, know what that is, that was tundra...ok that was tundra... now we know what it is..right? So we have this obsession to know everything...archive everything maybe that's where the influence comes from, I don't know! Am I making any sense to anyone?
Jenny Eden But what you then did through the crea... that curation....
Parham Ghalamdar Was to put them again.
Jenny Eden You put them back in some kind of story dialogue and social...
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah... That's that's what.... yea h... I'm dealing....
Jenny Eden Which is something, yeah so you've kind of resocialised them.
Parham Ghalamdar Because it is. Yeah, it is because it does have a dialogue for the audience.
Jenny Eden Yeah, and punctuations. With things that are kind of similar in some of the paintings and things that are different...like some things that are lonely, in a sense... I was thinking that there's nothing else in there, apart than the... this backdrop.
Parham Ghalamdar ... Fake Chicago Bulls hat, yeah.
Audience Member Just one question. This is your first solo exhibition.
Parham Ghalamdar yeah.
And I'm really intrigued as to how that has changed the way in which you think about your work, yourself as an artist and what that does to you actually.
Parham Ghalamdar I was... Yeah. I was thinking about it because this was the first time. So when I paint something and it's finished and I make drawings or whatever and... It's finished when I'm done with it, ok... I just wrap it in bubble wrap and just put it in the corner. I don't put the paintings into dialogue with each other later on. So it was.... It's after this. I was thinking maybe I need to sometimes bring back the works and have a look, another day. So like, you know, the painting, Mr. Risk-Taker, the guy with the slot machine.... So I was... After I went back to the studio. I started to again. I've brought out some materials from there and I went back revisiting it and painting it again. So, you know, maybe one of the things that I thought about after this was that maybe I need to bring things back and put them in dialogue again, not to recycle, but to just, you know, revisit some other ideas and just maybe echo or I dont know maybe, but just put paintings again into dialogue together. Maybe that was one of the things I was thinking about. And other thing was that maybe was that you know the colour scheme imthe paintings are usually...there are exceptions, but they're very consistent. And when I've put them together, I just again notice it. And I was like, oh, OK, maybe, maybe I need to bring in other colours, introduce other colours to the paintings again. Because when you put them away, you kind of forget how consistent it's becoming.
Jenny Eden Mr Risk Taker is a different kind of general pallette, isn't it?
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah.
Jenny Eden It's more um... of those muddier yellows, like a deeper red squares...there's this kind of heightened magenta and lime and viridian green, lime green in these. These have gotten more digital I guess.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah.
Jenny Eden So it's interesting that you have gone back to that painting. It has another kind of em...colour sense.
Parham Ghalamdar Yes. Yeah. So it might be. Yeah. That one of those things, maybe I need to you know...Go back and revisit the colours.
Parham Ghalamdar You ask so many questions as well. haha.
Audience Member I was going to say why is there so much like disaster in... not in all...
Parham Ghalamdar You're too young to know that, you're only eleven and we will have this conversation when your 18.
Audience Member It's a very good question.
Audience Member Because you have got the exploding, um... Like the planes and jets...the dead fish, and the.... which are on fire, ...like you've got I don't know what is happening there! But... something... Something bad has clearly happened in those pictures...
Parham Ghalamdar I will answer that when you're 18. It involves a lot of adult material. I'm sorry, later... You're eleven, you're too young to know.
Audience Member Good question though.
Parham Ghalamdar Yeah. Yeah. He can't talk for himself. haha. This is where my Iranian Stalinist things is coming up... haha. Thats enough questions! Sorry!
Audience Member Its a really powerful work.
Parham Ghalamdar Is it? Glad to hear it, Thank you. You only say that because you are my Aunty. haha
Parham Ghalamdar I will not give you a free painting because of that compliment. Be aware just...
Audience Member Can I just turn that around, maybe ask you, why do you think?
Audience Member I would say because the disaster and like the unfairness in the world, like you got, you see one clearly man that hasn't fallen over, he's just stayed there and you have another one that has clearly fallen over, and there like... There's no fairness in the world, you got one jet explodes...the other one might not and then... the...
Parham Ghalamdar You sound very interested in the unfairness. And it's interesting that it's coming from a 11 year old person. So it's, it's amazing that, you know, people in your age and you are clearly having an understanding of the current situation. Yeah, I don't I really don't know how to respond to this seriously, but it's just I'm so happy that you can understand that... You have understanding of it. That's amazing. I don't know, I really don't know what to say.
Parham Ghalamdar Should we wrap this up? Yeah? Is that, is that all? Perfect!