Timo Nasseri: All Borrow Their Light
Lawrie Shabibi presents All Borrow Their Light, Timo Nasseri’s the first solo exhibition at the gallery. Offering a comprehensive glimpse into Nasseri’s oeuvre, the exhibition comprises a carefully curated selection of paintings and sculptures from various stages of the artist’s practice that contemplate concepts of mathematical and geometric thought models.
The exhibition’s focus is on a new large-scale painting entitled Atlas (2023) which extends to 4 meters in length and develops his earlier series entitled I Am a Sky Where Spirits Live (2022-2023). In these paintings Nasseri applies forms inspired by the ‘Razzle Dazzle’ camouflage used by the British and US Navy in World War I and II as a tactic to avoid detection. The vibrantly coloured recurring forms on the canvas are reminiscent of geometric patterns in a gigantic kaleidoscope and incorporate elements of camouflage from the animal kingdom, fractals, indigenous traditions, and Cubist paintings based on human perceptual mechanisms.
Nasseri’s interest in geometry stems from his fascination with Islamic architecture and his study of Muqarnas ornamentation. Muqarnas is a honeycomb geometric design found in Islamic architecture, often used for decorative purposes in the underside of domes and arches, which originated in the 10th or 11th century. Nasseri analyzes the fundamental elements of Muqarnas and explores its mathematical, geometric, and ideological relationship with logic and the creation of the universe. In his ongoing series, “All Borrow Their Light,” Nasseri presents two works: the Epistrophy sculptures (2007-present) and the One and One drawings (2008-present), which examine Muqarnas in detail.
Epistrophy #8 (2017) is a large, polished steel sculpture that takes its shape from the internal structure of a typical Muqarnas. When embedded in a wall, the sculpture reflects its surroundings in multiple ways, creating a fragmented reflection of the space. This fragmentation becomes part of the artwork, reflecting the geometric structure of the Muqarnas, which was once considered a universe of endless forms.
One and One #49 (2023) is part of Nasseri’s ongoing series of intricate geometric drawings. Made using only a ruler and compass, these drawings feature repeating patterns that expand from the center, using triangles arranged in a specific rhythm to create complex geometric designs. The drawings give the impression of extending infinitely outwards, like blueprints for Nasseri’s stainless-steel sculptures. They showcase the mathematical beauty of Islamic architecture, geometry, and mathematics.
“Nasseri’s practice involves alternating between ancient techniques derived from Islamic and Persian art and architecture, exploring modern and contemporary Euro-American art historical and philosophical concepts. By doing so, he creates a visual representation of the intersection of abstraction and symbolism through complex codes and patterns of ‘consciousness’ that he embeds into his art” (Timo Nasseri: The Pursuit of Truth’ original essay by Sara Raza, 2023).
Narrative and storytelling play a significant role in Nasseri’s exhibition, weaving the fantastical with the real and possible. This is particularly evident in his Teardrop Vessels and Unknown Letters series. Nasseri seamlessly blends reality and imagination, creating a unique and compelling narrative that invites viewers to connect with his artworks on a deeper level.
The Teardrop Vessels series comprises of 80 clay sculptures that Nasseri created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These tear-catchers come in various sizes and shades of charcoal grey, arranged in clusters to evoke a daily ritualistic meditative practice. Some of these shapes have a primordial quality, while others reflect the functional and minimal design style of the Bauhaus school – though their functionality is entirely invented. Through this series, Nasseri tells a story of emotional release and catharsis in times of uncertainty.
In his Unknown Letters series, Nasseri delves into the world of Arabic script and alphabet. Inspired by the calligrapher Ibn Muqla’s attempt to add four letters to the Arabic alphabet, Nasseri created four sculptures in the shape of imagined Arabic letters, each carved from walnut wood. His research led him to believe that Ibn Muqla might have seen missing letters in the stars, which inspired Nasseri to create his own letters based on the shapes of constellations that existed during Ibn Muqla’s time. None of these letters are attached to any specific sound, allowing viewers to create their narratives about their meaning.
Timo Nasseri was born in Berlin in 1972 to a German mother and an Iranian father. He received his diploma in photography from the Lette-Verein, Berlin in 1997. Nasseri began his artistic career as a photographer before making the transition to sculptor in 2004. After travelling to Iran with his father he started to explore the relationship of geometry and Islamic architecture. Combining Islamic and Western cultural heritages, his work is inspired as much by specific memories and religious references as by universal archetypes described by mathematics and language, and the inner truths of form and rhythm
Timo Nasseri: All Borrow Their Light
Location: Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai
Duration: February 28 – April 28 2023