‘Khalvat’ reveals hidden layers in the Iranian culture

© Sahand Hesamiyan - Khalvat |The Third Line
© Sahand Hesamiyan - Khalvat |The Third Line

Iranian sculptor Sahand Hesamiyan presents his first solo show ‘Khalvat’ in the UAE.  In ‘Khalvat’ Sahand takes inspiration from Islamic architecture to create sculptures that present ancient concepts of transcendence in a contemporary context. The artist analyses the relationship between Iranian architecture and its metaphysical symbolism.

The centrepiece of the show is a massive white, steel sculpture that looks like a dome, lying on its side on the floor. As viewers walk around it, they see that the lower portion is an elongated projectile like structure, also covered with the same traditional “Rasmi” style triangular pattern as the dome. The “Rasmi” style decoration is often seen above the windows in traditional houses in Yazd and other areas in Iran. The star studded interior is based on the Yazdi Bandi style of decoration, seen in domes of mosques, bazaars and other structures. But surprisingly, the other end of this solid imposing structure is hollow, offering a view of the complex architectural layers and ornamental details inside. Light filtering in from the outside and the sky like effect of the star-shaped decoration creates the effect of a beautiful universe inside.

“The inspiration for this work comes from traditional Iranian houses that are built with different layers of privacy. Most visitors are received in the outer rooms; but as you get closer to the family, you will get access to inner sanctums.” Sahand wanted to reveal the layers in the Iranian architecture and in their culture through his sculpture. “When visitors enter the gallery they see a solid, conical shape. But when they go around to the other side they will find a whole new universe inside.”

Traditional Iranian Islamic architecture is introverted, enclosed and recondite. The final creation is inaccessible, and can’t be appreciated completely at a glance or discovered in the initial survey. Intricate ornamental details, superfluity of architectural elements and richness of colours and shades make external envelopment impenetrable for a person to understand the structure within. Preserved with mystery and grandiosity, traditional Iranian architecture is almost inscrutable.

The task set by the artist is to search for the truth, which in Sufi tradition should be found in a clear form. In that sense, layers are peeled apart, opening to the viewer an ability to discover meaning, spirit and the core. Khalvat is a result of comprehensive research in attempting to find a coherent structure in Iranian architecture, and with it a cultural framework itself.

Other works in the show include digital prints on paper, silk screen prints, paper maquettes, and smaller steel prototypes revealing the skeletal structure and different layers of the large sculpture.

“Khalvat” will run at The Third Line until December 24. The Third Line is a Dubai-based art gallery that represents contemporary Middle Eastern artists locally, regionally and internationally.

The Third Line

Street 6, Al Quoz 3
PO Box 72036
Dubai, UAE


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