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Part 1: An Interview with Abbas Derissi

A Day at Derissi Art Studio - Gallery
Part 1: An Interview with Abbas Derissi

Interview: Ahreeman X
Abbas Derissi
September 8, 2008

Part One: An Interview with Abbas Derissi
Part Two: Derissi at Work

So finally I decided to drop by at a friend, a great human being and the Iranian master painter, Abbas Derissi for an interview. I meant to conduct this interview months ago, yet due to lack of time I have been neglecting this task. At last I set an appointment with Derissi, grabbed my digital camera, tape recorder, pen, notebook, briefcase and entered the Derissi Art Studio.

Abbas Derissi standing next to one of his great works of art “Glimpse of a New Life”.

Derissi is one of Iran’s greatest painters with his own unique style of painting. Abbas is from the city of poetry, art, love and wine, the beautiful Shiraz.

Abbas Derissi is a great artist and an old friend. Abbas as usual greeted me with an open arm and we moved on from the gallery (downstairs) to the studio (upstairs) for the interview. We got the fresh Persian Darjeeling Tea (Chai) going. I took a sip from the cup of tea and started the interview.

Abbas Derissi standing in front of Jamshid Karimi's (his colleague and friend) masterpiece tribute to the September 11th named “9-11”.

Ahreeman X = Red
Abbas Derissi = Black

X: Abbas jan where have you studied art in Iran?

D: “Kamal-ol Molk Art Academy of Tehran” and then “Tehran’s Academy of Fine Art” at the “Tehran University”. I studied art under the grand masters Hussein Sheikh and Bahram Alivandi.

X: Abbas jan where have you taught art in Iran?

D: Derissi Gallery Shiraz, Art Institute of Shiraz, University of Shiraz (Pahlavi), and the Derissi Gallery Tehran.

X: Abbas jan, give me a brief story on the timeline of your art career in Iran?

D: I opened my first studio and gallery in Tehran. I used to live and work in Tehran. Then I moved to the heart of poetry and art, Shiraz. I opened a studio and gallery in Shiraz. In Shiraz I also started working for the Iranian National TV. Later on I started doing graphic design for the TV plus my own private artwork. I worked my way up as the head designer of the Iranian National TV Broadcasting and the chairman of the Fine Art Department of the Pahlavi University of Shiraz.

X: Abbas jan give me a brief story of the places where you lived?

D: I was born in Tangsir, province of Bushehr. I grew up in Shiraz, province of Pars. After my studies in Iran, I went for special studies and research to Rome, Italy and Paris, France. I continued my higher education in Bell Art Rome and the Mozart Art Institute of Paris. Then I went back to Tehran (opened a gallery) and then Shiraz (opened a gallery). In 1972 I met Salvador Dali in Rome and worked with him on various styles of art. I also went to Spain for research on art. After my research and studies I went back to Iran and lived there until after the revolution. Then I moved to Switzerland and then to America. First I lived in Chicago and then San Diego.

X: Tangsir, what a historical town. Tangsiris were great nationalists fighting the British Occupation and influence during the first World War in Iran!

D: Yes Tangsir has a history.

X: How many exhibitions you have thrown and where were they?

D: Over 126 shows (solo and group) in Iran, France, Italy, Greece, USA, Switzerland, England and Germany.

X: As a man from Shiraz, what’s your favorite wine?

D: Cabernet (Red Wine)

X: What’s your favorite art style?

D: Even though we all started with Impressionist and Realistic paintings yet I prefer Surreal Abstract which is a combination of Surrealism and Abstract painting.

X: If you have to choose one, then what’s your favorite city in the world?

D: Shiraz

X: What’s your favorite color?

D: Orange

X: Why Orange?

D: Happiness

X: Your favorite food?

D: Kalam Polo (Cabbage Rice) but Shirazi Style [Abbas emphasized that we must make (Besazim in Shirazi accent) the Kalam Polo, Shirazi style]!

X: Abbas, in addition to art, you are a great chef and specifically your charbroiled Kabobs are legendary!

D: Thank you

X: Favorite time period?

D: As a student back in Iran

X: At the present, what are you working on?

D: I have just finished and displayed a painting about Tiger Woods named “Master Mind” and presently I work on the Surrealistic paintings such as my new piece, the “Melting Time”.

Abbas Derissi painting his latest piece, “Melting Time”

X: Except in your Abstract work, in all your other works, why do you have two little people at the corner of your paintings as your trademark signature?

D: One hand has no noise but two hands make a lot of noise. I have always been against solo work and always have been pro cooperation and united work. Two is a union, two is together …

X: Politics?

D: Politics is not separated from art. Everything is political and art is no exception.

X: Ideology?

D: Liberal – Republican

X: Favorite politician?

D: Dr. Shapour Bakhtiar

X: Favorite type of music?

D: Classical Music (foreign) and Traditional Persian Music (Persian).

X: I know you play various instruments (Tar, Tonbak, Ney, etc.) and love Hamnavazi in Bazm (playing group traditional Persian music in parties). We used to play together in various parties. What’s your favorite musical instrument?

D: Ney (traditional Persian blow horn instrument).

Abbas Derissi working on his latest Surrealist piece, “Melting Time”.

X: Let’s kick it up a notch and get philosophical. What’s the goal?

D: To reach the light.

X: What is life?

D: An effort to Die!

X: Meaning of Life?

D: If after death, your name will be remembered as an artist, then you have accomplished something! Any sort of art would do: writing, painting, sculpting, photography, music, poetry, singing, ……

X: What is love?

D: Dependency of the Soul to the Moment.

X: Now that was deep! What is the best satisfaction you get in life?

D: From helping many of my students and colleagues, even ordinary people.

X: On life?

D: A satisfied good life would do.

X: Message?

D: If you are a grocer (baqal), labor, politician, killer or whomever in whatever field of work, just make sure that while living your life and doing your job, also on the side, do one and only one artistic choir of any art form, because art makes your character more human!

X: What is art?

D: To produce a creation whither bad or good is art. To create a new from nothingness is art.

X: Abbas jan, great interview, thank you for your time.

D: Thank you for taking the time to interview me.

X: We will be in touch. Qorbanat …

D: As always. Take good care.

So we said our goodbyes and went our ways off to work.

Abbas Derissi Paintings

Derissi draws 4 different styles; therefore, he has 4 different collections of paintings:

  • Surrealist
  • Abstract
  • Surreal Abstract
  • Clay and Hay

Derissi Surrealist paintings are known for the unexpected juxtapositions and elements of surprise. They are expressions of his philosophy. They are results of his revolutionary movement.

Glimpse of a New Life (a Derissi Surrealist Masterpiece Painting)

9-11 (A Jamshid Karimi, Derissi's colleague and friendSurrealist Painting)

Derissi Abstract art is basically using the form, line and color creating a composition independent of the visual references to the world. They are full of social, intellectual and visual turmoil, Derissi style!

Reflection (A Derissi Abstract Painting)

Surreal Abstract
Combine the Surrealism with Abstract style of painting and you will get Derissi’s unique blend of storytelling with shapes, colors and Shirazi spice!

Looking Back at Life (A Derissi Surreal Abstract Painting)

Clay and Hay
Derissi’s Clay and Hay (Straw) paintings are unique and specific to him. As homage to the rural areas of Iran, he started painting realistic figures in landscapes and settings comprised of real clay and hay (straw). The effect is uniquely fabulous, often unsettling, but always provocative and pleasing. It gives the viewer a kind of warm and homey feeling. They are very traditional and simple form of art yet complex to create!

Urban Rural (A Derissi Clay and Hay Painting)

If I have to choose one Derissi Style as my favorite, then I have to pick the Derissi Surrealist paintings as my favorite. They are highly symbolic and meaningful. Each of them has a hidden message crafted skillfully within the painting. The style is simple yet deep. The colors are fabulous. Derissi Surrealist paintings are extremely unique artworks.

In the upcoming days we will publish 4 different art galleries from the select works of Abbas Derissi’s Surrealist, Abstract, Surreal Abstract, and Clay and Hay paintings.

For more information:

Abbas Derissi, Iranian Master Painter - Art Review
Abbas Derissi General Gallery

Derissi Private Studio
(By Appointments Only)
1557 Avenida Ladera
El Cajon, CA 92020

Phone: (858) 551-4555

Now we continue to the photo shoot of Derissi at work Next page.

Part 1
Part 2
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