'Metamorphosis of Earth'
translated from French by
Maryam Salour is a polyvalent artist. Simultaneously ceramist, sculptor and painter, she incarnates the three: disciplines without confusing them. However, there is no disruption between the three. On the contrary, whether she innovates in the technique of the ceramics by obtaining a blend of unusual colures, or when in sculpture she projects delicate forms resulting from resulting from antagonistic or complementary forces, or when in painting she imitates the ruggedness of the mineral nature to create what she personally describes as "the four cornered dream," we witness the multiple metamorphoses of the earth itself. The earth, which at times turns into the turquoise blue of the skies of Persia; at other times embraces the ethereal shape of the bird woman; or again becomes the rough surface of panels when the artist, in a dream ike fashion, turns her attention to stones in order to unveil the essence of those high chain of mountains overhanging the oases of the Iranian plateau.
It was in France at the Savigny Academy that she was initiated to the art of ceramics. But from her early apprenticeship she reveals her hidden nostalgia for her country of birth. All the images of her primoral childhood: the white summits of the high mountains, the murmurs of the little cascades flowing into limpid basins, the blue domes which rival with the azure of the sky, already impregnate her inner vision of art. And that is why Mme de Savigny tells her one day: " Maryam, whatever you do, you shall remain the girl who belongs to the country of the blue domes."
In her sculptures, this tendency to abstract the quintessence flourishes in space. The predominant from become the complementarity of opposite forces, the dual nature of the Angel Satan, of androgyne. As an example, her sculpture entitled "Day and Night where two slender and ecstatic figures unite like a two headed tree, like two entangled branches shooting out of a common trunk whose roots and deeply in the abyss of the earth. Or that woman who springs weightless, in a trance, to the heights where she can lose herself in the stardust, as if the artist wanted to sublimate matter through the alchemy of her vision.
All the statuettes have triangular faces, as though by opposing the three angles, the triangle would constitute the restless dynamism of creation itself. That is why the omnipresence of the negating principle, or Satan, who projects a halo, so to speak, around the work of art, is rather like an occult power. Because the devil is not the fallen angel, nor is he damned, but on the contrary, he is the attracting force of love. He has been degraded from his privileged position because of his excessive love; it is his immoderation, the exclusivity of his irrepressible desire, his rebellion to all unconditional commands, which have been the cause of his death and damnation. He is the force, which animates the universe, which gives warmth to the cold stars of the constellations. In Maryam Salour's opinion, Satan and Angel have interchangeable roles. Like, for example, in the figure of that Angel Satan adorned with fanshaped wings springing out of its body like some incomplete growth, like some draft apt to assume the dual nature of future incarnations.
The transition from sculpture to painting takes palace without shock or break, because even her paintings are paintings sculptures. They occasionally assume the appearance of a large and ancient rock, which bars the road, yet invites to go beyond. We find that same desire for dizzy heights as in the sculptures. A desire for rarefied space in the heights. Just as Maryam Salour innovated in the art of ceramics, here too she creates new cocktails, unusual mixture made up of papier mâché, crushed wood, colorful pigments. Mixtures which give the surface of her thick canvasses roughness, windings, and stripes which plough this mineral world. It is like being confronted with a dream turned into stone of geological sedimentations, as though by concentrating her vision, she goes up to the origin of chthonian forces prior to the multiform explosion of life which modified and enriched the natural scene of evolution.
To end, I might add that in the work of this original artist, one can study all the geological layers of the earth's memory, layers describing, stage by stage, the palimpsest of the historical legend of the reign of minerals and reaching its apotheosis in that frail figure of the bird women before us like a "misunderstood sphinx", and who tells us with the poet (Beudelaire): " I am beautiful, ye mortals, like a dream of stone."
Tehran , November 2000