Arash Shirinbab is an award winning artist and calligrapher and has managed to be a successful blend of artist, Arabic-Persian calligrapher, and designer, as well as art administrator, art curator, and entrepreneur for the past ten years.
Diverse forms of arts have been always among Shirinbab’s passions. He undertook several hands-on drawing and painting courses as well as several theoretical art courses including art theory, art history, and fundamentals of visual arts on 1999 for three years in Kerman, Iran. He studied Industrial and product design at University of Tehran from 2001 to 2006 and earned BA and MA in the field of design. In 2008 he engaged in classical study of traditional Arabic-Persian calligraphy scripts under masters from the Iranian Calligraphists Association and learned two of the oldest calligraphy scripts.
March 15, 2015, Shirinbab's Masterclass at the 5th International Exhibition of Calligraphy 2015, the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy in Moscow, Russia
Very few people around the world are able to scribe with or read the ancient manuscripts that are written in one of these scripts, Kufic; but he can read and write this script and have published research about it at international conferences such as the Fourth Historians of Islamic Art Association (HIAA) Biennial Symposium at Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, in October 2014.
Shirinbab has participated in over 70 exhibitions (over 10 solos) nationally and internationally in the U.S., Spain, Poland, Canada, Russia, France, Italy, and Iran; such as the Triton Museum of Art in California, the Kunsthaus-Berlin-Marbella Center in Spain, and the Saadabad Palace in Tehran. His calligraphy and artworks in his personal style, Poem-Painting, have garnered tremendous attention at galleries and museums and are acquired by museums such as the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy in Moscow and private collections around the world. They have gained international attention among curators, critics, and collectors and have been published in several art journals such as Level 25 Artjournal and press articles such as Tehran Times. His arts have won several national and international awards, being chosen among hundreds of arts worldwide which proofs the originality of my works and creativity of his style. Among his awards are the 1st Place and Best of the Show Award for the 50 Shades of Gray competition by Focus Point & Shape Gallery, Special Recognition Award for My Art international competition from Art Quench Magazine 2013, and a $40,000 grant award as the leading artist and calligrapher from Creative Works Fund.
Shirinbab’s professional life and career is a multi-layered history of combining creativity and leadership and demonstrates his passion for artistic expression of different ethnic groups and the effect of representing the multiplicity of cultural perspectives on social improvement. He is founder of several art initiatives including Ziya Art Center in Berkeley, California where he serves as Executive Director. He prides himself on carrying his experience in art and also his business administration education, as a graduate of specialized MBA from California College of the Arts, into his art center which promotes cultural diversity, ethnic awareness, and social justice through arts on local, national, and international levels.
Shirinbab has led over 4 dozen public art programs, has curated 5 international exhibitions out of over 1,500 submissions, and has conducted over 2 dozen calligraphy workshops and demonstrations including workshops at Fremont Main Library in California and University of Toronto in Canada, and a masterclass at the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy in Moscow.
Mar. 15, 2014, Shirinbab's remarks at the opening reception of “Calligraphies in Conversation” group exhibition, Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California and Oakland Asian Cultural Center (ICCNC), Oakland, CA
My work has revolved around the social, political, historical, and spiritual dimensions of Persian poetry and has been informed by questions of transitioning Iranian society from traditional to modernity. My interdisciplinary art practice includes painting, ancient and traditional Arabic-Persian calligraphy styles, ceramics, mixed media, time-based and site specific work, and collaborative projects.
In working with poetry, I revive the use of the Kufic Arabic calligraphy script which developed around 7th century and gradually fell extinct fourth centuries later. My work transmutes Kufic into a tangible form that can survive and even thrive as a modern aesthetic element. Kufic has a very simple, angular, and nomadic form and was used to document both spiritual yet literary texts, both secular and religious. I have explored this style expansively in my work and believe it resonates with the voice in Persian poetry by women and men. This undervalued and overlooked script enlivens poetry by transforming its individual words and letters into illustrations that encapsulate and reflect their lost pasts/histories.
March 15, 2015, Shirinbab's Masterclass at the 5th International Exhibition of Calligraphy 2015, the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy in Moscow, Russia
I have coined my hybrid of calligraphy, painting, and poetry, PoemPainting in which calligraphy, without necessarily being legible, transforms itself to an abstract visual form and carries the essence of the poem it stems from.
In this style, I use both the linguistic and aesthetic power of words to create poetic visual art pieces. My inspiration usually begins with a poem whose essence and atmosphere illuminate my art.
Without writing out the entire poem, I extract its key words and paint or inscribe them in different styles of calligraphy in my personal style. My combination of calligraphy, painting, and poetry is intended as a dialogue between distinct art forms and cultures, in which visual elements display a mysterious and multifaceted world; One which reflects both my own Persian identity and contemporary, universally comprehensible artistic values.
While a poem in itself requires translation in order to be intelligible to others, my artwork is meant for an audience of all backgrounds, regardless of language.
Inside the Ocean of Desert, from "Inspirations of Desert" PoemPaintings
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