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Pejman (pronounced “Payshman”) Ebadi was a child genius. Born in Teheran, he has been painting watercolours of extraordinary depth and sophistication since the age of four. They look like initial sketches from the studios of Paul Klee and Kandinsky. His first solo exhibition was in 1990 when he was eight years old and by the time Ebadi was eighteen years old, he had created around 1,500 works of art. He has no academic artistic training and, rather than using an easel, fixes his supports straight onto the wall or floor. Ebadi’s work expresses the personal views, emotions and experiences of an adolescent absorbing his responses to the world around him. His powerful line drawings often create intense, violent and confrontational images out of a disharmony of colours and a mixture of French and English text.

He has had thirty-six solo exhibitions in worldwide venues, including the Villa des Arts in Strasbourg, the Espace Pierre Cardin, Paris, Christian Zeller Gallery, Bern and also in Berlin, Montreal, Toronto, Tahiti, culminating in a Retrospective exhibition at the Arsenal in Metz in 1990. Pejman is now 25 years old. Grosvenor House is the first public showing of a major work by Pejman in Britain.

INNER TRIP: Paintings 1998-2000

Ebadi’s paintings strike us at once by their differences (and their resemblances), their heterogeneity and their perfect maturity. Not a colour, not a shape, not a technique, not a material, and we assume, not even a way of painting, is recurrent. Thus, we walk like passers-by from fine intertwined black lines to bursts of coloured drops, from the crossing of multicoloured lines to monochrome surfaces.

The rhythm of space captured in thick strokes, or circumscribed by sinuous curves, plain background or explosion of colours: an incipient encyclopaedia of colours and shapes. We could play the game of guessing references of each painting. All the experiences patiently acquired by the masters of modern art seem to have been summoned here, as if languages of abstraction were in a pictorial Babel. But this detective work could trap us, in vain, in the uncertain labyrinth of genealogical investigations. The references are too numerous and contradictory to be plainly identified. Paradoxically, this very structured, very erudite artwork, imperatively requires a virgin, innocent, naïve eye. Furthermore, it requires an immersion, a freefall into this smooth, transparent, sprightly world: world of ease and pleasures, a world without violence, joy without suffering.

Pejman makes us dream of a nomadic, eccentric painting that lies in the quickness of gesture and in the lightness of a gentle line, not pompous, free of guilt. He invents art (that will not melt, that will not limit a land, a country, a territory: an interiorization, a non-ritual, non exclusive, non sacrificial painting), an imaginative art freed from the imprisoning weight of imagery. Thus, we leave surreptitiously the painter’s ego, we finally escape from the artist’s inner world, with all the mummified sensations, sclerosed impressions, pious nostalgia, passionate complacency, rancid emotions, callused images and resentment it implies. All this supposes a painful and haughty perception of the world is dismissed, eradicated by an a-subjective approach that only focuses on the relations of colours and shapes, and substitutes the aleatory of centrifugal games to the centripetal “I”.

Artwork perpetually raving and fantasizing its (absence of) origin, reducing to agony the homages to the founding heroes: from Kandinsky to Pollock, from Klee to Bram van Velde … inventing itself fathers to the exhaustion of fatherhood itself. This artwork whirls us into a spiral journey like in an accelerated replay of contemporary art history, where all the quotations placed alongside cancel each other out: this review turning out to be a worry-free game of hopscotch where, in each square, a spiritual father would be assassinated.

All these great oedipal speakers, with eyes turn out, who desperately write in their compulsive gestures the weight of what is licitly visible, are killed, one at a time, by a gracious and virtuous Hermes. Their world of chained images are dilapidated by this child prodigy that owns the keys to all their pantheons and who enters shamelessly into them to set free to the wind what can be found in their small hidden cabinets, and to walk happily in all their secret gardens.

All that was closed is opened, all excess is lightened. What remains unaltered, beyond the lines, is the barely formalized gesture, a gesture of talent, of loss, of dance: a joyous knowledge (which always violates and kills the real knowledge), gesture that unarms and opposes the tragic, sacrificial, exclusive gesture that freezes and seals: virtuous gesture that opens the dimension of the virtual.

This un-obsessed, non destructive artwork, escapes the eternal repetition of forms, the eternal return of the same, going off into an uncertain elsewhere, where, for some time, the immemorial antagonism of pigment and surface, of line and stroke, of angle and curve, stays suspended, deferring the final St. Bartholomew of colours.

Richard Scoffier

To watch Pejman painting and his work happening before one’s eyes is a privilege as well as a rare moment in someone’s life. He does not like being watched in those particular circumstances and very few people have now the opportunity to have access to his performing. As a child, he willingly went along with this type of exercise. Nowadays, as a teenager, he does not want such moments to be stolen from him. They are pure moments of simply being oneself during which he focuses on a white canvas, or any other medium, in a symbolic physical and intellectual way. They are linked to another state of mind, out of time, moreover out of our time which is already not his anymore.

He sometimes happens to use sketches previously drawn, but most of the time he puts himself into a state of doing, acting and being directly on the canvas. How peculiar and mysterious are the circumstances leading him to a sort of in-between state of both being but not being amongst human beings anymore.

Shapes arise from colored marks and streaks bursting out of nowhere and as he puts them on canvass, his acts are chained, they chain him to creation in a symbolic way…One cannot define or classify Pejman’s work: he purely and simply is and creates.

While listening to deafening music he makes his brushes screech on the canvass uncoordinatedly, handles painting jars and tubes in the same way, keeps his hands moving constantly and nervously and makes his pastels become an extension to his fingers sliding along, bustling about restlessly, marking, setting limits, fixing definitively. He has a penetrating, piercing and critical stare. Creating is for him a way to transcribe by laying down on canvass his feelings, emotions and ideas… Shapes become clearer, alter again and again, sometimes turning into something completely different than expected at first… The process of creation coming to its end: a masterpiece is born. Very occasionally, he reviews his work but most of the time he considers it accomplished.

Here is Pejman at work, Pejman being, Pejman creating and it can happen whether in his studio in Paris, on a boat in the Guyanese jungle, on a Polynesian island, or simply in the bedroom of a hotel, in an apartment or in front of his house in Normandy.

His work being completed, he passes on to another time, another rhythm, another music, another passion… here comes the time for some rest…: after creation, time for recreation. After his performance comparable to some kind of fight or some kind of dance; after questioning on the structure of his painting, the harmony or disharmony in the colours he uses, the piece of art is achieved once for all and he does not change a thing anymore.

As for stating whether his work resembles to one or another painter’s… he does not want to care about it. As a matter of fact, he does not have time to think about it, nor wished to do so.

From then, even though it is still wet, the piece of art had its own existence. He even catches himself discovering it afterwards, analyzing and explaining it, making comments on it … and contemplating it, again and again… Actually, on the one hand, while working intensively and sometimes for hours in a role, he gives the impression to forget every reason why and how he created a piece of work; on the other hand, he is aware that work has been accomplished and that, as described above, a sort of fight has been going on.

He acts in a constant state of nervous tension, gesticulating violently. This drastic nature is linked to his young age of 18 and shows through the picture he gives us to look at, combined with and counterbalanced by some kind of sweetness. Pejman’s painting is obviously disturbing.

Being alive, in Pejman’s mind, means being free, acting without constraint, beside norms and standards. He is free, original, eccentric, disturbing, far from being on the fringe of society or cut off from the world. He simply is and lives in it, accepting being part of it. Pejman is a self-made artist, his painting being far from classicism, academism or aesthetic standards. He is aware of his value and difference. As a sponge absorbing liquid, he “absorbs” what he sees, reads, hears and lives. He experiences life, makes his own opinions whether from an aesthetic, poetic, religious, sociological, economical or political point of view. Once ideas, emotions and feelings are “absorbed” they are transcribed on the canvass taking a vegetal, animal or human coloured shape, which he calls all together “his spirits”…

Pejman has painted constantly for 14 years now and this constancy shows through his work. As he paints, he reproduces what his eyes see, what he lives and feels. His paintings are completely different one from the other. The constant link ensuring the continuity of his work is the constant presence of pieces of elements forming part of his own world such as: faces here and there, masks, graphic signs, jaws, teeth, bodies, monsters, fishes, eyes here and there, everywhere… staring at you… but also words extracted from his first period poetical prose, in opposition to his 18 years old devastating, resisting or arrogant slogans.

Actually, writing is also very important for him and has always shown through his work, particularly for the last two years. From French speaking language in his childhood, he passed on to English language in his teenage years. As a child, the need for writing was almost as important as the one for painting. As a matter of fact, his first paintings could make us think of weird graphemes or alphabets coming from other times, other places… At that time, writing and painting were merged and melt into harmony. Nowadays, even though they seem to merge just as before, they seem to just coexist and are most of the time brought into conflict, contrast one from the other and jumble together shamelessly.

Likewise, Pejman dares everything as regards the use of colours: orange, purple, blue, pink on a red or black background and reverse, trying to reach the perfect harmony out of an apparent disharmony… and it is precisely what astonishes in his work: he succeeds in creating a brilliant masterpiece out of ill-matched colours. HIS WORK IS INTENSE AND MEANINGFUL. It is a mixture of and a confrontation between terror and sweetness, movement and quietness. He pulls us out of a chaotic labyrinth to guide us towards the light of a red purple sunset which he loves to contemplate. A pure “mineral” atmosphere with a “jungle” of mystery, enigma, oddness and chaos…Far away from the mundane tumult of the city, he likes to escape in the peaceful countryside to write and paint, more and more, but also to simply and fully enjoy every single moment of life. He has never been afraid to take risks in his daily life as well as in his creation. That's probably the reason why he seems to escape from the ‘normality’ existing in a certain form of contemporary art which, nevertheless, he belongs to…The only thing that he seems to be obsessed with are his “spirits” (as he calls them), with whom he ‘coexists’, is confronted to or, in reverse, merges with by painting, arranging and fixing them down on various supports so that he can contemplate them, face them by giving them a face… Thus, he gives us to see and face our own inhibitions, our own world, today’s world…Pejman does not use an easel but works with his support fixed on the wall or just laid down on the floor. He is the sum of what he read, saw, heard and experiences in a refined family background. He never tried to paint academically because he simply never could do so, moreover has always been unable to do so.

He never put up with scopes or limits and always resisted them. He did with what he had or whatever comes to hand, transforming and arranging things he could find.

Finally, he accepts only one limit: the frame of his pictures insider of which he can express himself freely and where he feels everything is possible, where imagination is opposed to, but, at the same time, combined with reality. His work makes me think of far-off days and distant civilizations such as primitive cultures. A picture by Pejman can therefore be an invitation to a long journey in our past, present or future. He owns his own keys and codes for entering his know-how, language and aestheticism.

Going back over codes and civilizations, there are a people on the Panamean coast islands named “kuna”. Kuna women call pieces of cloth by the name “molas” which designates anything that covers, such as leaves, feathers or clothes.

For Pejman, the equivalent of “molas” is “sprits” which represent the beyond, the invisible, the non-perceptible, what can only be felt and seen by him thanks to his penetrating eyes… Weird comparison indeed: comparing the “molas” of this people living next to the Panamean coast with the “pictures” made by Pejman who lives in the Normandy countryside can actually seem weird or inappropriate but modernity shows through both expressions and makes me conclude to the mystery and universality of artistic creation.

This dedicated monograph brings to light his last two years of work. Putting forward his talent, his extraordinary sharpness, his skillfulness and an uncommon personality. It tries to reproduce faithfully his reality by means of a powerful line drawing , alchemy of colours, sparkling of marks and streaks, limpidity resulting from a never-ending confrontation and unequalled freedom. It might allow us to come closer and look into his penetrating eyes comparable to the penetrating stare of an eagle flying above a mountain up in the sky…

Djuro-Georges Peron-Magnan

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