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is a German art critic, art historian and writer.

Dr. Wolfgang Soure on the art of Davood Roostaei

Oriental mysticism and action-packed bursts of color in a new art movement.


This artist's painting is characterized by two distinctive features that make it rare and exceptional. What is striking first of all is the magically beautiful and brilliant colors, with their legendary and joyful tone. Roostaei's colorism contains a great past and brings to mind the paradisiacal gardens of ancient Persia with their lush flowers, fruits and mythical animals or the refined application of color in Persian miniatures and their illustrations of poems and fairy tales. But, as I said, these are just associations and memories that arise when looking at Davood Roostaei's semi-abstract and emotionally dynamic large icons. In their swirling abundance, they bring to mind Pollock's tachistic method, the anti-naturalistic painting style of the Fauves or the expressive ecstasy of Chaim Soutine. Roostaei represents visions with an unleashed and at the same time ordered, because controlled, color orchestration, which creates an aperspectival and infinite space into which he inscribes figurative line traces and object fragments. Lineaments form into hints of reality as in "Circle of Creation" or "Three Wisdoms", presented with veristic and classical drawing. Then again Roostaei only gives psychogrammatical abbreviations and gestural particles of experiences or thoughts. The renowned Hamburg art critic Professor Hanns Theodor Flemming has this Roostaei's prototypical artistic method is aptly referred to as "cryptorealism". The term is derived from the Greek word "Kryptos" and means hidden, secret, secret, and therefore requires a very refined type of perception. The combination of figurative and abstract painting creates a mysterious and hidden - cryptic - pictorial lyricism. This is what makes Roostaei's handwriting so special. His crypto realistic style is the personal way of coping with his own world and life experience. 

Then, in connection with this lively chromaticism and colorfulness, Roostaei's humanistic, even philosophical view of art should be highlighted. He sees her as a mediator of humanity, as an expression of his participation in human destiny, which he also emphasizes when showing his pictures for charity purposes. He is spontaneously concerned with love for humanity, as a simple and pantheistic sympathy for existence, for creation, for humans, for the entire creature. The threat to these values is always present in the modern world. Roostaei's pictorial drama is to be understood as committed emotional painting in decided contrast to cold rationality, with full devotion to vital qualities. It is his internalized attitude to life that is expressed in this humanitarian approach to art. This specific union of the ethical and the aesthetic has something to do with Roostaei's thinking and feeling that comes from Sufism and Arabic mysticism. There is an original and elective relationship between the intoxicating color visions and Roostaei's old Persian humanism, the latter also being understood as a spiritual and form-forming influence, not orthodox or didactic, which is alien to his temperament. And what's more: From an early age he knew well the old Persian poets Hafis and Omar Chaijam, in whom poetry, love of life - also in the sense of joy of life and Dionysian intoxication - and then quiet, spiritual relief merge into a unity. This is also where strong suggestions come from. In this centuries-old  Roostaei has a tradition with his action-like – Western European and contemplative – oriental painting.

Roostaei, who was born in 1959, comes from a culturally conscious family, which may explain his unmistakable feeling for traditional values. Still young, around sixteen, Roostaei rebels against the injustices of the ruling Shah regime and is persecuted, arrested and tortured in prison. But he manages to escape. After adventurous wanderings, he arrives in Germany, his new home, the longed-for country of Goethe, Schiller and Beethoven, as he says, and settles in Hamburg, where he exhibits and gradually becomes known. 


The following should be added that has biographical and metaphorical significance. The place of birth, a small, very idyllic town in southern Persia, is called Sarab, which means "Fata Morgana". translating is, as Roostaei himself explains, not without humor. "Light reflection" as a place name for his early childhood, rich in romantic natural events, perhaps an allegorical reference to his later painting, his passion for dynamic light spaces, brilliant color reflections and perspective reflections between people and things, as in the exalted and crypto realistic vibrant icons of “Freedom Day” or “Glasnost” that radiate joy, hope and the great breath of liberation. Roostaei is personally and politically involved. The word meaning of the magical and homely Sarab is omnipresent in his work. Nomen is omen!



Roostaei loves opposites, which is evident in his enjoyment of disguises. Sometimes he appears as a bullfighter in expensive Spanish clothing, sometimes as a Sufi itinerant preacher in a hairy, coarse linen cloak, each an expression of physical and mental powers whose psychological contrast can be seen as a unity. In these theater-like and playful travesties, Roostaei also wants to make the hidden power behind the appearances visible, as in his paintings. In the large picture "Nirvana" (1994) with the flickering and blazing color continuum in fiery - lava-like red, he gives an allegorical representation of the Big Bang at the beginning of the world, where life emerges from the primal chaos. The title "Nirvana" refers to Indian ideas and the lifting of the cosmic Maya veil that hides the driving forces of the "blind will to live" (Schopenhauer).

Dr. Wolfgang Sauré

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