Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar (b. 1984) is a French-Iranian artist based in the South of France.
‘I like talking to Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar about his work. He’s refreshingly passionate and clear. When asked what his work is ‘about’, sometimes an awkward question to ask an artist, he talks about two big, interconnected, subjects, energy and nature… One of Behnam-Bakhtiar’s favorite poets is the famous 14th century mystical Persian poet Hafez, one of whose poems introduces this essay. One striking feature of the medieval Persian poetic tradition of which Hafez is a part, is its love of nature imagery and especially imagery relating to gardens. Gardens in both medieval Christian and Islamic thought, were reflections of Paradise, a memory of our once Edenic state, and as academic Julie Scott Meisami writes “a place wherein the soul might read the most profound spiritual lessons… as its design and constituent are seen as reflecting principles of cosmic order and beauty, the garden itself become an ideal place wherein such principles may be observed; garden poems, as well, function as places of learning and discovery as well as of recreation and delight.’
– Nick Hackworth, Curator, Modern Forms.
The work is part of a new series of paintings begun by French-Iranian artist Behnam-Bakhtiar in 2020 when he found himself articulating the forms of flowers in what were intended to be a series of purely abstract paintings. Through a process of the scraping away of layers of carefully built-up pigment, along with some scratching and brushwork, Behnam-Bakhtiar reveals the floral forms as if they were always latent in the fields of painted colour… Flowers have always been leitmotifs for Behnam-Bakhtiar, both as symbolic reminders of Iran, it whose visual culture flowers are especially prominent and more broadly as touchstones for his mission to represent and embody vital, natural energy in visual form.