Bio & Art Statement
Dr Mohsen Keiany born in Shiraz (Iran) in 1970. He moved to Britain over 15 years ago and through persistence and natural talent he has established a career as an artist and art lecturer. He completed a PhD which originally explored the symbolism of mosques in Baluchistan at the prestigious, Birmingham Institute of Arts and Design, Birmingham City University. His PhD was a very strong piece of research and a book based on his findings will be published by Oxford University Press shortly. He is a successful artist in Birmingham and the West Midlands and has presented his paintings in more than 60 exhibitions in the region and throughout the United Kingdom and internationally.
Mohsen’s style, technique and use of materials blend approaches from both East and West. The most important cultural inspiration, however, comes from past and present Persian cultural traditions. References to Persian miniatures, manuscripts, archaeology, history, pottery, music, calligraphy, poetry, ceramic tiles and stained-glass window designs appear in his paintings. They also combine philosophical considerations and Islamic spirituality. Mohsen believes: “My art is my cultural identity. My culture is my dignity and it is my main source of inspiration”.
Mohsen has a lot to say and this may be one of the reasons why the surfaces of his paintings are often too small for him to express himself. His work is crowded with people, animals and elements from the natural world. Black outlines, bright colours and the absence of perspective and shadows reflect Persian techniques. The bright colours remind us of tiles and stained-glass windows in Persian architecture. The warm colours represent the sunny climate of Iran. Ancient references are inspired by Mirlic, Seyalc and Lurestan archaeological sites. Recently he has scored poems by Hafez into the surface of his paintings, which demonstrates his loyalty to this great Persian poet.
The people in Mohsen paintings wear traditional Iranian and tribal clothes from centuries ago. They ride horses, play music and participate in ceremonies, dances and other social gatherings. Their facial expressions reveal strong emotions. They look sad, even though they might be thinking and meditating cheerfully. His art is rhythmic: the observer’s gaze moves from one object to another as it travels to all parts of a painting. The music of Persian instruments combines with the sounds of horses and goats that run across an image.
Mohsen does not sketch plans for his paintings. He begins by creating a textured surface and then meditates in front of the canvas or board. He finds objects in texture: “Everything is there – I do not to search for them. I just see images and take them from the texture. Later I add some more colours or wipe some colour off. A human body, horse, goat, tree, stone and other objects appear.”
Mohsen tries present spirituality in his paintings by using the beautiful to contribute to the enhancement of consciousness. A necessary part of his work is to represent the Creator as the most delicate form of consciousness in the universe. Those who seek spiritual knowledge need to purify themselves so that they can know God.
Spiritual can be defined as that which expresses the numinous and evokes attraction and awe. Spirituality is a feeling we gain when we face an aspect of the divine, an overwhelming consciousness, which may not be overtly religious.
Spiritual knowledge can be achieved by focusing upon fine emotions and rejecting crude ones, by following God's commandments and loving all living beings. It can also be developed with the help of meditative techniques and special methods of psychical self-regulation. Mohsen has found art as the best guiding path towards spirituality.
The Persian philosophical-religious approach can be seen in traditional Persian miniature paintings and this is the most important inspirational component of Mohsen’s art – a mythical legacy from the past. His art introduces a different way of understanding traditional Persian philosophy which compares with other modern representations in the arts, including Iranian cinema.
Mohsen’s art evokes spirituality as a means of leading people to God and ultimately towards perfection. His paintings provide a spiritual signal to those who want to realise the meaning of life on Earth.
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tse said: ‘the wise prefer non-doing (meditation) and live in quietness. Everything happens around such a person as if by itself. He is not attached to anything in the Earth. He does not own anything made by him. He is not proud about his work.’
For Mohsen painting is a form of meditation. He never plans, designs or makes sketches for his paintings. He creates textures and then he sits in front of the canvas for hours, uncovering different elements such as trees, rocky landscapes, animals and human figures, who wear traditional Persian dress and play music.
I am a highly experienced artist, art teacher and lecturer in visual arts. I trained as a fine arts teacher and lecturer. I obtained a PhD in Architecture, from BCU, which based on rural and nomadic symbolic arts, crafts and architecture. I did my both M.A. and B.A degrees in Fine Art (Painting).
I am very much into multi-culturalism and always interested in researching about different cultures and traditions particularly art and architecture. Currently I am carrying out a research for BCU under the title of “Hidden symbolism in Muslim Community in Birmingham”. I have taught different courses of arts such as Animation, Paintings, Drawing, Illustration, Decorative arts in various places including in schools, colleges and Universities for more than 17 years. Over the years I built up a reputation as an award winning artist by having my work showcased at various national and international venues.
My art work is deeply influenced by my background. Historical, religious and cultural themes feature strongly, especially the influence of spirituality or Sufism (Erfan). My art can contribute not just to the aesthetic pleasure that people will experience but also enhance their understanding of diverse art traditions and the human condition.
Representing Gallery - Art Scene Gallery, Karachi
2011, Post-doctoral, BCU, Birmingham
2010 PhD in Architecture, BCU in Birmingham
2004, SNVQ Level 5 in Practical arts, South Birmingham Collage
1998 MA in Illustration based painting, Tarbiat Modarres University of Tehran, Iran 1997, Lecturer and teaching qualification, Tarbiat Modarres University of Tehran, Iran
1996 BA in Illustration based painting, Pardis (University of Arts), Isfahan, Iran
2014, Art Scene Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan, April,
2013, Tanzara Art Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan, September/November
2013, Mussawir Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE, April/ October
2012, Art Scene Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan, October
2011, Sareban Art Gallery, Tehran, December
2011, Nomad art gallery, Islamabad, November
2011, Art Scene Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan, March
2011, Ejaz Art Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan, February
2010, Bewdley Museum and Art Gallery, Bewdley, UK, October – November
2010, Khaas Art Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan, May
2010, Artscene Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan, April
2010, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham UK, April – July
2009, Ferdowsi Art Gallery, London, February- March
2009, Huddersfield Art Gallery, Huddersfield, January-February
2008, Resvan Art gallery, Mash’had, Iran, December,
2008, Isfahan Contemporary Art Museum, Isfahan, Iran, January
2007, Haft Honar Art Gallery, Tehran, Iran, November
2007, RBSA Craft Gallery, Birmingham, February-March
2006, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Gallery 28, November 06- January 2007,
2006, Birmingham Central Library, November 2006
2006, Barber Institute of Fine Arts, September- October, Birmingham
2006, Coventry Transport Museum, June, Coventry
2005 Hawkseley Community Centre, Birmingham, November
2005 Kufa Gallery, London, January
2004 The Bullring, St Martin’s Gallery, Birmingham, August- September
2004 The Drum, Birmingham, April- July
2004 Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery, January- March
2003 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, January- March
2002 Newman College of Higher Education, Birmingham
2002 Plater College, Oxford
2002 The Drum Art Centre, Birmingham
1998 Tarbiat Modarres University of Tehran, Iran
2013, 45th edition of “Umoristi a Marostica” festival, Marostica (VI),Italy
2008, Tehran Contemporary Art Museum (Paintings’ biannual), Iran, May-April
2007, Fragment, ICA (Institute on Contemporary Arts) Gallery, London, November
2007, Creativity and soul, Milton Keynes Art Gallery, Milton Keynes, September
2007, Open Exhibition, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, February- May
2006, Art & Business, June, London
2006 RBSA Gallery Prize Exhibition, Birmingham, July (won the prize)
2005 Qube Art Gallery, Oswestry, July- September
2005 RBSA Gallery 2, Birmingham Art Circle Exhibition, Birmingham, July
2005 RBSA Gallery, Prize Exhibition, Birmingham, June
2005 RBSA Gallery Open all media exhibition, February
2004 RBSA Gallery, Birmingham, October
2004 RBSA Gallery, Birmingham, August
2004 St Paul’s Gallery, Birmingham, June
2003 Re-location, Birmingham, September
2003 Summer Open Exhibition, RBSA Gallery, Birmingham, August
2003 Leave to Remain, London, June
2003 RBSA Gallery, Birmingham Arts Circle Exhibition
2002 Intervention, Birmingham
2002 International Convention Centre, Birmingham
1998 Contemporary Arts Museum of Tehran, Iran
1997 Desert’s Exhibition, Turkey
1997 1st Festival of Visual Arts, University of Arts, Tehran, Iran
1996 Contemporary Arts Museum of Tehran, Iran
1994 Nipan, Japan
1993 Contemporary Arts Museum of Tehran, Iran
Prizes and Awards
2008 Individual Art awards, Yorkshire Art Council,
2007 Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, Prize Exhibition, (Highly Commended)
2006 Arts Council England, West Midland, (Visual Arts Award)
2006 Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, Open Exhibition, (Cash Prize)
2005 Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, February (Highly Commended)
2004 Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, October (Coley and Tilley first prize)
2004 Individual arts award, Birmingham Arts Council
2002 Creative Ambition Award, West Midlands Arts
Artist in residency in Abu Dhabi Art Hub during may 2014 followed by an exhibition in June 2014.
2012-14 Visiting Lecturer of fine art, School of Visual Communication, Birmingham City University
2011-12, Lecturer in Isfahan art university,
2010-11, Post-doctoral researcher, School of architecture, Birmingham City University
2010-11, Visiting Lecturer of fine art, School of Visual Communication, Birmingham City University
2009/2010 Artist in residence for Birmingham City Council
2002/2010 Running art projects and art workshops around the UK
2002/2004 Art teacher at Primrose Hill Community School, Birmingham
1998/2000 Lecturer, Sooreh, Art University in Shiraz, Iran
1996/ 1999 Illustrator of Janbaz Magazine and Resalat Newspaper (Iran)
1984/1999 Teacher and coordinator, Kavar, Shiraz, Iran
2014, Baluchistan; the land of architecture, crafts and religious symbolism (book), Oxford University Press (in process)
2011, Well-being international Conference (Paper), BCU, Birmingham
2011, Biting Back Symposium (presentation), 21 March Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham
2010, Inter-Chat Conference (presentation), A dialogue on arts and communities with local and international perspectives. 7-8 April, the Drum. Birmingham, 2010, Hidden Symbolism in Asian community of Birmingham (research), Birmingham City University
2010, Nomadic architecture of Baluchistan (article), Mardjani Foundation, Moscow University
2010, Architecture, craft and religious symbolism in rural areas of Baluchistan in Pakistan (PhD Research)
2009, Mythical legacy (Article), London, 20th of February
2008, Minaret in Islamic architecture (article), on Luka versa (book), Birmingham City council,
2008, Visual art, Catalogue, Birmingham
2007, Colourful dreams, Catalogue, Tehran
2006, Minaret symbol of sacredness (article), The Faith initiative magazine, May, Lancaster
2005, A pictorial survey of tribal living culture in Iran (article) Firouzeh (Journal of the Centre for research in Iranian Arts), Birmingham 2004, Conflict & Spirituality, Catalogue, Birmingham
1998, The use of materials in Persian painting; school of Qajar (research), Trbiyat Modaress University in Tehran
1996, Investigation of rural and tribal elements on Persian paintings, school of Trabriz (research), Isfahan Art University