Who is Sépànd Danesh?
Sépànd Danesh is an extraordinary contemporary artist, born in Tehran, he lives and works in Torcy, France. The artist is also the founder of HUBTOPIA, a research program and publishing house in based in Paris.
Explore the artworks and discover the artist behind the canvas.
I can sum up my childhood as a post-revolution/war-born child that suffered a lot from familial crises (my grandfather was part of a coup that failed against the Islamic republic and he got executed.) which affected me a lot.
I always felt trapped-in and taught that going to school will help me to escape. School was even worse because our teachers were war veterans with psychological issues.
Public school for boys was a more violent territory both physically and mentally. At 12 years old, my parents decided that it was time to leave, and we left.
My parents lost nearly everything during immigration. After a long trip to the US, we finally decided to settle in Paris because my mum spoke French.
Again, I believed, at the time, that leaving Iran would be my escape, until I found myself trapped again, completely ruined and cut off from the world because of the language.
But this time It was way more complicated. In Iran, I was trapped inside things like school, the Islamic laws, and the country itself. But after we left Iran, I felt trapped outside of everything, in the margin of the society, unable to communicate with the new unwelcoming world.
I felt isolated very deeply in my body and in my mind but somehow because of my desire to fight for the life I started drawing as a substitute for language.
I didn't feel comfortable while making big drawings because of the huge amount of information in my mind that needed to get out.
This is how I created a grid ( see drawings ) able to receive this uncontrollable flow of thought I had kept in my mind.
This relentless activity changed my way of seeing things. I quickly became a 'hub' between my interior world and the environment around bursting everything through the grid.
Soon I needed more information to avoid emptiness. That's how I started reading, watching movies and images, and somehow creating my own encyclopedia of imagination.
Years later after a very unsuccessful time at art schools and design schools in which I didn't stay long or didn't feel well, I got a studio in a squat in the suburbs of Paris and started painting with the same frenzy as my drawings.
Until one day, I saw one particular space in the studio I haven't seen before. It was the corner of two walls. Standing there in front of me. I will never forget this moment when I realize I was facing something way bigger than anything else I have ever seen. So simple and minimal but so rich and baroque.
It was uncomfortable but very cheap and allowed me to avoid part-time jobs. I painted day and night. I didn't know what to paint anymore and used my own paintings as models for new ones.
I made a small painting with the vertical corner, without a floor or ceiling, to keep the feeling of fall and rise in front of the painting.
I added a shelf to the composition to be able to place objects. The corner is a physical barrier that prevents seeing beyond and because of that produces a paradoxical effect of opening the viewer to an inside dimension (of fantasy and imagination).
While facing an image, we mentally project ourselves in frontward. While facing a corner, there is no other option than a backward projection in our interior world.
Jorge Luis Borges in his Novel 'The Aleph' describes himself trapped in a dark basement until he finally stares at a corner of the basement, closes his eyes, and when he opens them, he sees a continuous flow of image she called the aleph. I call that The Corner Paradox.
There is a world in my mother tongue called 'konjkâv' (konj = coin = corner and Kâv = Cavity = to dig) which literally means to dig the corner.
The translation of this word in English is 'curious'. I think at that moment when I painted my first corner, I realized that I have found the perfect platform for my curiosity to blossom.
I first painted everything around me in my corner paintings. Then things from my personal memory and a larger historical memory that I feed by reading and studying every day.
After years of research, I finally realized that the only way to escape the corner (as a metaphor for the human condition of being trapped on earth) was to be able to metamorphose things.
I took the principle I used for my drawings and applied it to volume. This is how I got interested in combining cubes (or volume pixels also called Voxels) as material for creativity, using an identical basic form and creating endless combinations.
I use those protocols to produce the perfect environment for imagination development and creative growth. Since my very first drawing, I believe that artists have always revealed to the world the relationship between individuals and their environments.
In this way, I try to use what is in my power to do the same.
I work as long as I'm awake, day and night and when I don't work I make peace with myself and the people around me.
Usually going to nature. I love mountains and seas. I'm not a risky person and love spending time with my family.
I am a very curious person and everything can be a source of inspiration but The Corner Paradox is the one that gets my attention first no matter what I do.
I am currently working on an installation project for the universal exhibition in Dubai. I will produce sculptures that provide interactions between people.
All the sculptures are made by the combinations of the same fragment, the voxel. Each sculpture's light and shadows are painted in a way to create an optical illusion of digital feeling for the viewer.
More information on the artist
Instagram: Sépànd Danesh
Instagram archive: Sépànd Danesh Archive
Website: Sépànd Danesh
Public & private collections:
Accor Group 2020
Fond National d’Art Contemporain 2019 Fondation Neuflize obc, 2018
FRAC Poitou-Charentes 2017
Collection Société Générale, Paris 2017 Fondation Jean François Prat, 2015 Fondation Colas, Paris 2012
Dwellers, (solo show) Centre d’art contemporain, Troyes, 2022
The Universal Exhibition, Dubaï, Octobre 2021
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All images are were taken by the artist.
We say a very big thank you to Sepand for taking the time to share with us his story and his exceptional artwork.