The joint artistic efforts of Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh began as serendipity, but slowly grew in to an artistic collaboration so permeable to each painter's artistic vocabulary that now each one's creative contribution - though still distinguishable - is inseparable from the other's. Each intervention is an integral component of the composition and contributes to the narrative and visual plasticity it conveys. Thus, it is ultimately of little consequence whether the painting ends up looking as if it could be divided into sections or not.
Friendship and trust are often mentioned as the underpinnings of this partnership; but equally important are the life experiences both artists share and their unusually close intellectual and spiritual bond. It is a communion in which their artistic perspectives and cultural heritage blend to form a single "artistic sensitivity."
The involuntary genesis of their partnership reflects the organic nature of their creative process, which has evolved in different directions. As the pair themselves attests, "we don't speak or communicate to each other a single intention or direction of our work. Everything evolves in silence, while we guess or decipher what the other means."
The creative directions a union like this can take are endless. Each series of works or ideas for a show is fertile ground for experimentation, in a process that is always in flux, within a collaboration that didn't end right after it began, or burn out after the first joint work was produced.
The medium of drawing, as a means of expression, has given the artists a particularly strong creative outlet. The two work on a drawing for as long as the spirit moves them, with the paper going back and forth with no pre-agreed upon directions or pre-conceived instructions - until time comes to stop. And when a mistake crops up, it often becomes the springboard for new discoveries.
The collaborative drawings of Amer and Farkhondeh continue to display the female figures that Amer sought out from the stylistic fantasy world of pornography. But now they are seductively bonded to Farkhondeh's inner landscapes also fraught with erotic stirrings.
The sensual poses of the figures commanding the scene seduce the viewer into taking part in their intimacy, as they caress and arouse each other, unabashed and unrestrained. Yet equally provocative and sensual are the sexually-charged colors that surround these women imbued with femininity.
Both the color palette and the softness of the lines convey the artistic harmony of a tranquil collaboration. The stylized figures portray featureless women - anonymous bodies without a past - rendered with quick, unrestrained strokes. Though the drawing is simple and the figures all display identical faces and the same daring poses, the depiction of nature varies from drawing to drawing, making each work strikingly unique.
"I like gardens in the morning for walking, in the afternoon to simply remain or sleep there, and in the evening to see how the colors disappear." Farkhondeh transposes onto their work these unique moments and stages of contemplating nature as it changes throughout the day. The choice of color - either vibrant or muted - superimposed on the surface of the work either as translucent layers or opaque splotches of paint, and the way the vegetation is allowed to spread freely over the paper's surface, as a mantle over the female figures, convey nature as either contemplative and ascetic, or more unsettled and bold. Painting intuitively, spontaneously, inured to the rigorous, academic formulas and rules of composition that govern drawing, Farkhondeh shares his idyll of nature - real or not - with the viewer and offers us a private corner for meditation and spiritual rebirth, where one can "feel one's mortality without panic."
The Gardens Next Door is a stage in an ongoing search for beauty that stands in stark contrast to the personal reflections they convey with regard to multicultural constructs of gender and sexuality and the human condition. Everything has been rendered with a purpose and acts as a means of communicating an idea. Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh tell us something - something that goes beyond rhetoric and the spoken word.
All we have to do is look, hear, and feel.
Quotes taken from Martine Antle interview to Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh for the exhibition catalogue.