“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” says mutli-talented artist Hosein Rad. His interesting approach to creativity mixed with his Persian family heritage has led him to do not only beautiful photographies, but also elegant Persian calligraphy. Hosein is an unusual and funny character, always inventive and open to others. His inspiration and his talent are delicious food to our eyes. He has been involved with Exhigone from day one and has been sharing with us some great art work that enlightened our walls. We met with Hosein just before we opened the doors at Exhigone 5. Here is what we talked about.
Can you give us some background about youself : where are you from? where have you lived?
I was born in Iran and for the last 17 years I have been living in London. I came here to do my degree, my PHD, and after that I stayed.
How did you start doing photography?
It takes me back t to about 35 years ago. I started stealing my mum’s camera and taking photos with her camera. Every time she would send her film to develop she would be surprised because half of them were usually mine.
What do you like to take pictures of? How do you get your inspiration ?
There are a few things in which I am interested in. There are series in different projects I follow. For example I like street lamps so everytime I go out for photography and see one I take a picture, they are my interest. I do a lot of street photography. I like to take photos of people and then talk to them because you get to know their character and you understand them better. I also do scenery sometimes, when I have the opportunity to have the camera on tripod and do high dynamism range scene. It is when you take multiple shots of the same sort of scene with a different exposure and you mix them so they look like a painting. I did a lot of modern photography and I still do modern photography and fashion whenever I have friends that ask for it. And that is about it, almost everything!
Do you want to talk a bit about your calligraphy work? How did you start doing it and what does it mean to you?
Again, it takes me back to my childhood. I used to have a master calligrapher as my teacher. Calligraphy and Persian calligraphy especially is very rigid, it’s got its own style and its very solid. As early as I remember I was thinking that people who are not actually from our background can’t really understand it, understand the words. Also they were not so beautiful as abstract art, so a couple of years ago, going through depression like everybody else, I decided to start writing. I started developing my own hand and my main focus was to make them beautiful, even for people who can’t read them. That is why they look very curvy. I broke up lots of rules. Persian calligraphy is done from right to left and I am doing mostly from up right to down left, so diagonally most of the time, and very often I just break the normality of the words and present it in a way that is appealing to eyes. So it is a bit different from a normal Persian calligraphy, not every Iranian can read it either.
How did you hear about Exhigone and how did you start being involved in it?
I used to go to the club where you had the first exhigone in, in Giglink. One of the night I was going to the club I saw you ad there and I thought “ok let’s give it a shot”. That is the sort of a concept I’d like to do myself for long. But you need people, it is a team work, it is not something you can do alone so I thought “let’s get on board” and present a couple of piece, and from day one I was insisting on having photography and calligraphy side by side.
How could you describe your contribution in all of the shows?
I tend to do a new piece every single time that is on the theme of the exhibition. I try to do my best to do something new. We had really good ones, like the last one, the venue was good, like this one, and people really put a lot of effort into making it happen and it becomes more and more colourful.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am travelling from Monday for a couple of weeks. I am going back to see my parents mostly but this time I’m gonna take my camera to go on the street. It is not easy because people are not receiving very well the photographer. The establishement and the government both don’t like it as well, but I am keen to go back and revisit my childhood and the places I was born and raised. I want to see how much of the past is still left there and how much of my memories are still there. I am a child of the revolution. I grew up during the revolution so I can relate to that and to those sort of times, but at the same time it is very nostalgic. A lot of it has changed because of modernism.
Can you tell us something that we don’ know about yourself?
I am far more crazy than what you guys think…
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions!
If you are curious about Hosein and want to discover more of his amazing work, visit www.hoseinrad.com