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Hossein VALAMANESH

Teheran, Iran born 1949

  • Movements: Australia from 1973

Falling 1990 Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
sculptures, wood, bamboo, sand, steel, black granite
Technique: wood, bamboo, sand, steel, black granite
390.0 h x 55.0 w x 50.0 d cm
Purchased 2002
Accession No: NGA 2002.26.A-C
© the artist

MORE DETAIL

  • Hossein Valamanesh immigrated to Australia from Iran in 1973, bringing with him, among other things, a knowledge of Farsi (Persian) poetry and an openness to the experiences that awaited him in his new land.

    There are literary references in Falling, but also open-ended, poetic possibilities. The artist has commented that the work is a reading of a scene from Salman Rushdie’s book The satanic verses (1988), in which the protagonist gracefully falls from an exploding airliner, landing on the surface of the ocean. Valamanesh has said of Falling: ‘Leaving behind the narrative of the book, it stands for itself and it is more like falling with grace’.

    A strong connection with nature is evident in Valamanesh’s large, ethereal sculpture. Constructed from carved wood and bamboo, the head and shoulders of the descending figure are surfaced with red sand. This link with the earth gradually merges with the colour and structure of the long curving forms of the bamboo that in turn convey the weightlessness of wind and air. The head rests on a circle of polished black granite suggestive of water.


    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

  • 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