The image of the human body, in the form of an outline of my own body and shadows, appeared in my work from the mid-1980s. It was as if I was entering the work but, in so doing, I was leaving behind recognisable personal features and filling the outline of the body with new images and ideas.
Falling is the first in a small group of works in which the figure is inverted, as if it is heading back to earth.
In his book The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie describes the mid-air explosion of a passenger airliner on its way from India to England. He describes vividly bodies and debris falling towards the ocean beneath. Gibreel Farishta happens to be on this flight and, as everything around him falls apart, he gracefully falls, lands on the surface of the ocean and walks to the beach. Falling was my reading of this soft landing.
Leaving behind the narrative of the book, it stands for itself and it is more like falling with grace.
In 1991 I made Falling breeze, for which I used the outline of the body of my son, Nassiem (meaning breeze in Farsi). In this work, falling was like growing up or coming down to earth. The falling boy meets up with a branch of a tree. With traces of fire, it is heading in the opposite direction. In both of these works only the head and shoulders are recognisable and the rest of the body is transformed into linear forms. Like the tail of a comet, they suggest the direction of the fall.
Falling is constructed from carved wood and bamboo. The head and shoulders are surfaced with red sand which gradually blends to the colour and structure of bamboo. It sits on a piece of polished black granite, reflective like the surface of water.
Hossein Valamanesh 2002
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002