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Publish Date: 11 July 2017




One of martyr Mustafa Chamran’s personal aspects, his artistry in both calligraphy and painting. Regarding calligraphy, he studied under Master Saneei whilst in painting he studied under Master Arjangi – one of KamaloMolk’s prominent students. Mustafa Chamran was a skilled artist in the field of photography too, he has captured beautiful and interesting photographs from landscapes in Lebanon and Iran; currently about 600 photographs are available in the form of a book "Martyr Chamran’s Photographs” to be published in three different languages. In painting, he also has more than twelve paintings the he has portrayed in different mystical, religious and zealousthemes. During his life time, Mustafa Chamran was able to complete only six of his paintings. Some of Chamran’s paintings have small dimensions and are in black and white; they are very interesting and drawn in a strong way. According to Mr. Mahdi Chamran (Mustafa Chamran’s brother), those six paintings were drawn when Mustafa Chamran was in the Defense Ministry, and sometimes he remained till a late time of night working on the painting.

Regarding the derivation of the origins and roots of Chamran’s paintings we can say in order to acquire a better understanding of Chamran’s sense in these artworks, we have to go back to his viewpoints during his lifetime and evaluate it in the proper time settings. Actually Chamran is narrating the war conditions and the social crises of Iran with his own words; through his artworks he is describing the events around him and what his turbulent spirit is passing through. Chamran’s paintings should not be observed from an artistic and professional point of view, rather all of his artworks should be observed collectively in order to build up a better connection between his writings, prayers and painting. It seems that Chamran’s notes and prayers were embodied and merged as "patterns” and "images” in his paintings. Dr. Chamran has experienced a lot of things in order to reach the "Divine Truth”, these experiences were in various fields among which are philosophy, mysticism, religion and even nature. Hence, when we study Dr. Chamran’s artworks, we will notice that all of them demonstrate a consistency of his attitude and practice, or his words and deeds; in fact, it evinces the depth of vision.

Accordingly, it must be said that "Symbol” is the most prominent factor in Chamran’s paintings. From a technical and professional point of view, one of the characteristics of symbolistic paintings is that the painter expresses his message through intermediation of certain symbols and signs. Usually under circumstances where the painter is not able to express his opinions explicitly, he abides to this method in order to relay his message and it is usual for the audience to be able to understand the painter’s messages, they should be familiar withthe languageof symbolsand be capableofanalyzing their works. Symbolism, in general, can be considered as an integral part of religious art. Themanifestation of religious art in visual arts is full of symbolic elements and concepts which have a transcendental aspect,consider and point to truths beyond. Definitely the expression of something sacred and non- materialistic, that does not fit within the context of limited mater, requires the implementation of "Symbol” in order to be expressed and relayed.

 

Semiology of Chamran’s Paintings

In Chamran’s artwork, "The Candle” painting [figure 1], a dark space is seen with a candle in the center of it and providesa light of hope and life with spiritual properties. This is a combination of his poetic sense and quarrelsome sense; this shows he is soft and tender from the inside and his recklessness and courage in wars from the outside.

Apparently, the artwork conveys the concept of invasion against helplessness, on the other hand, in the center of frame light is given off by the candle which is a tantamount to a human being burning in order to illuminate its surrounding. Regarding the drawing style, this artwork has been drawn in a similar manner to the post-revolutionary paintings and using symbols that were common in this period. In terms of colors, he exacerbates the invasion movement in the center through utilizing the harmony of burnt red colors and the central convergence lines.

In the second artwork, which is named "Explosion of the Heart” (figure 2), a paradox of tenderness and violence can also be seen. An attack from the outside has been eliminated and the movement has been intensified inside the artwork. Through replacing a candle with a heart, the artist depicts for the audience the intensity of his internal emotional outbursts. However,we continue to see in it the visual impact of the war. The sense of the explosion of cluster and chemical bombs and its contradiction becomes clear when the center of these explosions is a symbol named "Heart”. Chamran’s view in the artwork’s color vibe, with the dense red colors, reflects his symbolistic feelings. From a structural point of view, in this artwork, the stepped perspective guides the eye from the bottom upwards. Martyr Chamran wrote under this tableau: "Explosion of the Heart”. This heart, is the heart of a human being which wants to explode from the leverage of pain and discomfort.

The artist’s dual symbolistic and realistic view becomes more apparent in his artwork "The Ascension of the Bird”. The waves and the interference of theclouds expresses his realistic attitude, whereas the bird’s appearance is totallysymbolistic. In this artwork,the concept of explosioncan also be seen, which expresses the struggle between light and darkness. From a technical point of view, in this artwork, the artist exhibits more proficiency in terms of brushing, color rendering and considering details.

In "The Ascension of the Man” painting (figure 4), the artist’s symbolistic point of view prevails over his realistic point of view. Sea waves are not real waves any more, rather they are thick pitch like layers placed on one another in way that the audience accepts that the sole way for man’s ascension and emancipation is to detach from these waves. The composition of the artwork is a diagonal movement where it depicts the man’s ascension from the right corner toward the left corner. In terms of color, the symbolic aspects of color are exhibited through depicting the concepts of darkness and light, as well as through exploiting cool and warm colors.

From these artworks, we can understand that the concept of ascension is more important than anything to Chamran. Therefore,the icons of birds, horses and humans are the reason for introducing the concept of the Ascension (figure 5). Familiar symbols such as light, sea waves, and the dark background kept theircomplementaritywith the concept of ascension. The diagonal composition is also seen in this artwork and his dual view, his realistic and symbolistic view, has been repeated in these artworks. From another perspective, the particular method of representing horses in this work, isolates the painting from the other paintings and gives a fanciful sense similar to that of thefolk tales. In terms of light focus and dark sense, thelucidity of the romantic aspect is more in this artwork.

The romantic view to the tree in wind (figure 6) when compared to "The Ascension of the Horse” tableau, gained more power and we are facing a tree withstanding a storm. The blue sky and theroaring clouds reminds us of romantic paintings.

In the "Crying Eye” tableau (figure 7), post-revolution elegant and poet like tendencies are more apparent.  This artwork tells us that we are not dealing with a professional artist, rather we are dealing with an artist who chooses any time or language in order to express his internal feelings, which most of the time take a primitive and spontaneous form.

In support of this claim Kaaba boards (Figure 8) tells us that Chamran is merely an imaginative man, who just wants to express his feelings. In this artwork, familiar symbols such asthe Kaaba, the scroll and light are the most expressive languages that he can adopt to reach his audience. This artwork is titled "The Explosion of light and the fall of the Idols”, which refers to the day when Prophet Mohamad ordered to throw the Idols out of the Kaaba. This brings to the mind the words of Imam Khomeini, when he said: "Our revolution was an explosion of light."

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