It is no wonder that his works have been described as “taking the onlooker to a realm of suggestion and mystical beauty…where everything is alive with a sense of everlasting fluid motion.” In doing so, “Hessam is expanding his horizons and stimulating the mind as well as charming the eyes of the beholder.”
Born in the city of Shiraz, Iran in 1951, Hessam Abrishami was the son of middle-class parents, and one of eight brothers and sisters. He attended public schools in his home city of Shiraz until his graduation from high school, after which he served in his country’s military service for two years.
It was not until he was 15 years of age that, through the inspiration and encouragement of a high school teacher who was himself an artist, Hessam discovered both his love of art and his talent for painting.
While Hessam devoted his major effort to painting, he also seriously studied related types of art, including calligraphy and architecture – both of which he credits with making major contributions to the development of his work.
At 17, Hessam received his first award for painting. A year later he won top honors in painting in a national student competition in Iran. At 19, he achieved first-place honors in the “Iranian New Artists Competition.” Many other national and international honors followed.
After his military service, Hessam decided to go to Italy – ”the center of art in Europe” – to study. He completed a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at the Accademi De Belle Arti “Pietro Vanucci” in Perugia. Although he pursued his love of portraiture by concentrating on realistic painting and special studies in anatomy, he also developed his talent further by studying other styles – impressionism, surrealism, cubism, and modernism.
Hessam notes he was influenced most by the artistic atmosphere in Italy, saying, “the colors were bright and the atmosphere was quiet and relaxed.” His subsequent return to Iran had a profound affect on his artwork. He found Iran in a state of revolution; the social atmosphere was darker, activity more frenetic and the general mood less relaxed. His resulting anger was immediately seen in his paintings; they became less realistic, their subjects darker with more overall movement.
During this stay in Iran, Hessam collaborated with a friend on a book of paintings and poetry titled “Screams”. Its powerful religious and political overtones proved too unacceptable to the Iranian government and Hessam soon left for Italy and, eventually, the United States.
Hessam continues to expand his creativity, exploring “the fluidity of human figures.” As the French press has aptly stated, “He creates a tension between each figure, a kinship of place or condition that provokes the viewer to seek reasons for such relationships.”
HESSAM: ABOUT HIS WORK
“I didn’t set out to use bright colors, they just came out. This is important, I don’t give any direction to my paintings. Any colors I use just come from my feelings. I don’t think about bright colors or dark colors or lines or anything. Whatever comes, that’s good enough for me.
I love the human figure. For me a woman’s body has more flexibility, more movement, and I can work with that. To me they have more energy. I can relax more. I work better with a woman’s figure than a man’s.”
Vibrant colors, dynamic composition and powerful expression go hand in hand with imagination and expert craftsmanship to create works of amazing depth and dimension which are at once both intriguing and disarming to the viewer.