Shahrokh Rezvani

Location: United States
To enter the world of artist Shahrokh Rezvani is to be enraptured by a tale of pure magic and wonder. The potency of his creative expression as a master painter and printmaker overtakes the senses as each color and shape of his life’s work inspires the imagination to transcend beyond our most rigid form of reality. Acclaimed artist Arthur Secunda deemed Rezvani a “Renaissance Man” for his mastery of all traditional art and graphic media, monotypes, photography, drawing, painting, fabric design, hand-constructed papers, and monumental Cyanotype cliché-verre prints.

To look into the face of his artistry is to explore the darkness and the light of our very existence. We are called to respond, even if only to ask ourselves the questions, “What is my version of the truth and reality? Or is it all just merely an illusion of reality?”
Rezvani's art is based on his the belief that our reality is nothing more than an illusion limited to our narrow visual and sensory perceptions parallel to the life that surrounds us. Human eyes are only capable of registering and processing a very limited segment of the light's ray that they receive. Therefore what humans perceive as reality is nothing but an illusion of reality in the surrounding physical world. This illusion becomes the reality.

The arts first came to Rezvani through the stories he heard about his grandfather Medjid Kahn Rezvani and his uncle Serge Rezvani, both recipients of the French Ordre national de la Légion d'Honneur (National Order of the Legion of Honour) having lived in Paris, France, and both widely recognized for their creative alchemy. Medjid, a dancer and magician, authored the groundbreaking books Les secrets du sorcier (The Secrets of the Sorcerer) and Le théâtre et la danse en Iran (Theater and Dance in Iran), which was illustrated using Serge’s drawings. Serge, a wonderfully talented musician, composer, painter, and author, composed illustrious pieces of music and wrote best-selling novels that are still loved by many to this day.

Rezvani considers his grandfather, along with Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse, as his artistic mentors, which is why he was most astonished to learn from Françoise Gilot, Picasso’s longtime girlfriend and muse, that Picasso and Matisse knew Rezvani’s grandfather personally. An entire chapter titled "Magician" was dedicated to Madjid Rezvani in Gilot’s book Matisse and Picasso: A Friendship in Art. In her book she documents an evening gathering at Matisse’s residence with Picasso and Gilot where Madjid delighted the artists with cleverly performed magic tricks of his creation. Adding to the mysticism of this special bond that transcends both space and time, Francoise Gilot and Shahrokh Rezvani would later both exhibit at Joy Tash Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. Later that year, Rezvani would then invite his artist friend Dale Chihuly to join him in co-exhibiting at the very same gallery.

Perhaps it was this lineage of artistic vitality that gave Rezvani the courage to leave Iran as a young man and settle in the United States to study art instead of medicine, all against the will of his father. Rezvani received his BS and MA degrees in printmaking from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and his Master of Fine Arts from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. The creative passion and instinctive talent instilled in Rezvani led to art grants, graduate assistantships, fellowship, and frequent returns to Iran for numerous solo exhibitions including the "Exposition International Des Arts De Tehran" alongside major European and internationally known artists. Rezvani was then invited to present a solo exhibition alongside venerated artist Louise Nevelson at the Exhibition Halls of the Iran American Cultural Center in Tehran, Iran.

In attendance of his inaugural solo exhibition at Tehran Gallery was Mehrdad Pahlboud, the Persian Minister of Art, who quickly fell under the spell of Rezvani’s fascinating art, charming nature, and worldly intuition. It was here that Rezvani was commissioned by Mehrdad Pahlboud to set up the first elaborate printmaking workshop in Iran. He was then requested by the Office of the Queen Farah Pahlavi in writing the proposition to set up a second printmaking workshop in conjunction with Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. After one and a half year of professorship at Farabi University and the College of Decorative Arts, and again at the request of the Office of Queen Farah Pahlavi, Rezvani was chosen among other selected Iranian artists to depart for Basel, Switzerland to exhibit at the Basel International Art Fair.

Sensing the undercurrent of turmoil rushing through Iran, Rezvani made the sudden decision of returning to America, despite the opulence of his esteemed position among Iran’s aristocracy. He left Iran before the establishment and completion of his beloved printmaking workshop project. Eighteen months later, the 1979 Iranian Revolution broke out, dismantling the very government organization he left behind. Facing a future ripe with possibility, Rezvani used the magic of his art to reignite his career in Scottsdale, Arizona. Within three years, he was headlining exhibitions at the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), and the Phoenix Art Museum. Later he was one of twenty artists selected by Phoenix Art Museum and Arizona Commission on the Arts for the traveling exhibition "20 Arizona Artists."

Exhilarated by the momentum of his good fortune, Rezvani founded The Rezvani Workshop and Studio in late 1977 with the acquisition of his etching press. This artistic hub located in Scottsdale, Arizona became the creative nerve center for collaborative monotypes and prints by Rezvani and internationally known artists Fritz Scholder, Dale Chihuly, Paul Jenkins, Arthur Secunda, Robert McCall, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, James Havard, John Stewart of The Kingston Trio, Beth Ames Schwartz, Lamar Briggs, Pulitzer Prize winner Scotts Momaday, Rudy Fernandez, and Mark Spencer among other well known artists. During the workshop era, Rezvani pioneered a radically new cliché-verre technique known as Cyanotype cliché-verre, a process normally reserved for photography. With its dynamic blue hues and delicate lines and curves, this visionary art form attracted Native American artist Fritz Scholder to the Rezvani Workshop. Together, Scholder and Rezvani collaborated in the creation of a substantial number of monotypes, two editions of intaglio prints, and nine editions of Cyanotype cliche-verre prints during an extraordinary fifteen and a half year friendship and collaboration. The result of special relationships with some of the most decorated names in modern art awarded Rezvani with hundreds of highly valuable art pieces collectively known as “The Rezvani Collection.” The majority of the treasured works of art in this remarkable collection were created at Rezvani Workshop or offered in exchange for the opportunity to collaborate with Rezvani.

For his work in the cliché-verre process, Rezvani was selected by the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan and Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas as one of twenty-five artists from the 20th century to be presented in the prestigious exhibition "Cliché-Verre: Hand Drawn, Light-Printed, a Survey of the Medium from 1839 to the Present." Also featured in the exhibition were two Cyanotype cliche-verre prints by Fritz Scholder published by Rezvani. The exhibition was product of two years of extensive international research. It included works by Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Man Ray, Millet, Daubigny, Corot, and Delacriox among others. Rezvani was later included in the international exhibition featuring 20th century cliché-verre prints held at Galerie Shimofusaya, Chiba-shi, Chiba-ken in Japan.

As his artistic expression advanced, so did the opportunities to share his art. The Arizona Commission on the Arts selected Rezvani as one of three solo artists to represent Arizona in a two-year solo exhibition tour. He was also one of five finalists nominated by Tucson Community Foundation for Arizona Arts Award. His alluring artwork has been included in distinguished publication Who's Who in International Art in Lausanne, Switzerland, the famed Dictionary of International Biography, Cambridge, England, the book California Art Review, countless articles, publications, and documentaries.

As a respected authority in medium of monotype and the cliché-verre process, Rezvani has presented numerous workshop demonstrations and lectures as guest artist at Phoenix Art Museum, Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico, Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Tucson Museum of Art. His work is represented in prominent collections across the globe including The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan, California Palace of Legion of Honor, San Francisco, California, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona, Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Scottsdale, Arizona, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, Iran, Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the world-renowned Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, France. Believing that art can transform lives Rezvani has participated in various fundraising initiatives including GuitarMania, which was sponsored by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. During this event, his large vibrantly painted guitar garnered one of the highest donations in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona.

Today, Rezvani is wielding his creative virtuosity to craft a series of elaborate mixed media works using hand-constructed (painted sculptural reliefs) paper, painting on silver gelatin prints, and oil paintings on photographs of painted models. He utilizes the live female body as a canvas, painting upon various components that make up the torso and face (limbs, breasts, hair, hands, lips, cheeks, etc.), breaking up and subdividing arbitrary areas into abstract localized shapes, textures, and colors somewhat in the manner of picasso's "Woman Looking at a Mirror," in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He uses oil colors in variation of flats, dots, and lines, blending to create a sensational organic flattened and rounded array of overtly sensuous visages and snakelike forms that slither, bend, subvert and unconventionally highlight tips of the body, dislocating members, projections, and extensions that destroy our "normal" perceptions.

Once this Rezvani icon is frozen photographically, he commenses to repaint once more, though now it is over the photograph itself. In effect this process refines and morphs his abstraction into another phase of the illusion, correcting, restoring, honing each detail into the whole. The contrasting of smooth silk textures against beaded hair, soft flesh against rigidly painted outlining, the change of human expression and surrealistic "remaking" of the anatomy in this final stage of the artwork evolves into an illusion of reality, and/or reality of illusion. These provocative works of art disturb, amuse, titilate and draw both scorn and admiration for their biting innovative commentary on melancholy weariness in contemporary life.

Rezvani's artwork can be seen in pop media, throughout the internet, and has become the inspiration and ideal for contemporary artists around the world. His work is forever evolving as each multi-layered painting embodies the depth of our human experience and taunts the very nature of what we consider and perceive to be reality versus illusion. Through the magical sorcery of the art presented by Shahrokh Rezvani, we see more than brilliant colors, elegant shapes, and luminous shadows. His magic allows us to open our mind’s eye to the incredible beauty that exists just beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations.


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