Referencing well known American figures, icons of popular culture, famous landmarks and familiar stretches of urban landscape. Persian artist Reza Torabi has created a vibrant and fascinating artistic oeuvre over the last two decades. Embracing vivid colours, unexpected ideas and offbeat visual effects, his large scale, high impact collage pieces have established him as one of the most innovative cityscape artists working today. His unique style juxtaposes loose abstract brush strokes with meticulous detail to comment on the contemporary world with humour, charm and individuality.
Reza was immersed in the creative arts from as early as he can remember. As a child he found charcoal and chalk around the house and began drawing portraits of his good natured father who would sit for him for hours on end. Soon, the talented teenager was receiving commissions for portraits of religious icons and supporting himself with his art.
After attending Güzel Sanatlar University where he studied Art History, Poetry and Music, Reza moved straight into the life of an artist. His first solo exhibition was in 2003, and he went on to hold many more successful shows around Iran. In the early days he supported himself by teaching oil painting in an atelier he set up in his home town. Having grown up in a world where the American Dream was a huge concept – an impossible ideal that he and all his friends were desperate to pursue, he took his first steps towards a new life by moving to Turkey.
Here Reza embraced a whole new world of personal and artistic freedoms. His first show was the start of a new era for him – almost, he says, a rebirth. Having previously painted exclusively in oils, he had begun to experiment with new mediums and the works he sold here were drawings in India ink. In 2012, through the United Nation’s Artistic Freedom Refugee Program, he finally managed to reach his goal, making a life changing move to the U.S. which reshaped his whole approach to art.
His first series in his new location, Life in Motion, represented the café and gathering scenes of his homeland, and were a heartfelt tribute to his personal history and heritage. These paintings combined collage with a new style which he describes as “blurred motion”, life seen at speed and perhaps also through the slightly blurred lens of memory, and they helped Reza to keep his most precious memories alive. He carried this blurred motion style over into the next series, Sevda, which is the Turkish word for “a bigger love.” This body of work combines the experimental elements of Life in Motion with his talent for portraiture.
Wanting the American Dream to become a permanent reality, Reza took his US citizenship test in 2019. From here he has gone on to concentrate more generally on life in the cities of the USA and his success is growing across North America and Europe.
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