BY DUNCAN WELLER
SAM Shahsahabi has created a series of works for his show Beneath the Reflection, at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery where copper acts as a canvas on which enamel paint and acids are applied to create patinas of varying colours. Inspired by Persian poetry and post-colonial philosophy,” said Shahsahabi. “I wanted to explore how in my personal life I came to learn about East and West and if there are any windows of opportunities to bridge the two.”
Shahsahabi got his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Azad University in Tehran, his Masters of Fine Arts at York University in Toronto and then after several years of working and exhibiting he began teaching in the Visual Arts department of “Most of my work in the past ten years concentrated on the division of mankind and its environment and the fact that these days we mostly learning about distant cultures through media and brief news feeds in social media,” he said.
Concerned that meaningful understanding of different cultures is disconnected by cultural stereotypes he also looks for healing.
“I try to create positive works, which have literal and conceptual healing powers by employing the power of copper and sacred geometry,” he added.
Whether mystical powers actually come into play and influence the viewer of Shahsahabi’s work or not, the inspiration has resulted in unusually interesting wall hangings and sculptural pieces with detailed traditional patterning and colouring. What little imagery there is, flowers and oil rigs, contrast some of the beauty and the ugliness - the growth and entropy of our world. This makes for a worthwhile show that has the physical weight of sculpture with details that add to the suggestion of meaning.
In gallery three are two works by Christian Chapman in his show called, Fight For Your Life. Displayed is a small print that is humorous, yet a bit hard to decipher, and a very large, acrylic painting that makes a big statement. In the smaller print titled, The Time is Now, and Yesterday, and Tomorrow, Chapman continues to explore themes mixing the worlds of the Indigenous with the colonialist. Chapman employs the Woodland style, often inverting and subverting subjects and styles using humour combined with a critical voice, often allowing for multiple interpretations.
This new large work is less open to your interpretation. It is whimsical in its use of sea creatures and cartoon-like approach, but like an oversized political cartoon, the painting is clearly making a comment on the fate of indigenous people in Thunder Bay - the location given away by our Sleeping Giant resting in the background.
Homaged and allegorized for political and social statements by many artists Chapman’s version of the Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault faults the captains of our community for their failures, either through inattention or incompetence that has resulted in increased racism, the four year torture of indigenous man in prison, and an inordinate number of suicides and murders.
The painting isn’t a master work, but it gets close. It’s missing the specifics to truly hit home with a hard message or multiple messages, but one can’t fault Chapman for not getting into the details. For him it must hit home too much. It must hurt. When speaking of the painting during the opening night for his and Shahsahabi’s show, in front of a large audience, or when responding to questions for this article, Chapman is reluctant to get into details. And he doesn’t need to. The painting speaks for him.
Both shows are on display at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery at 250 Park Ave. till Nov.11.
Duncan Weller is a writer and visual artist. His latest book is Flight of the Silk. You can drop by his gallery/studio at 118 Cumberland Street or write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.