Interview with Yari Ostovany

Born in Iran in 1962, Yari Ostovany moved to the United States at the age of 16 and pursued his studies in Art first at the University of Nevada – Reno and then at the San Francisco Art institute where he received his MFA in 1995.

Born in Iran in 1962, Yari Ostovany moved to the United States at the age of 16 and pursued his studies in Art first at the University of Nevada – Reno and then at the San Francisco Art institute where he received his MFA in 1995. He was based in Cologne from 2000-2005, and since 2011 has been residing in the San Francisco Bay Area again. Ostovany has exhibited extensively in the United States and internationally, and is the recipient of Sierra Arts Endowment Grant, Craig Sheppard Memorial Grant and Sierra Nevada Arts Foundation Grant. Recent solo exhibitions include Vorres Gallery, San Francisco and Haleh Gallery, Berg am Starnberger See in Germany.

His work is in the permanent collections of institutions including the Permanent Collection of the University of Nevada – Reno Art Department and New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut and is represented by Vorres Gallery in San Francisco and Antonia Edwards Fine Art, in Laguna beach, CA.

Yari Ostovany currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Yari Ostovany | Photo by Serge Hamad

ZH: Hello Yari, … it’s nice to have you here at ZH magazine.

YO: My pleasure, I love what you are doing.

ZH: Could you tell us about how you have commenced your art journey and in particular what made you choose “Abstract” as your style? 

YO: I took my first drawing at the University of Tehran Extension program (taught by Arabali Sherveh) at the age of 15 while I was still in high school. At the beginning my work was figurative and rather surrealistic, abstraction is something that I arrived at with time.

ZH: Your pieces have a very strong musical and poetic rhythm. Some of those can be listened as a classical music, or be read as a poem. What is this rhythm and where does it come from?

YO: Poetry and music have always been a vital part of my life. In my work I have always tried to look for the underlying sense of the poetic and the musical. In essence I look at my work as musical compositions in paint and in a way these are paintings to be heard, through the eye (or the mind’s eye).  For me the lyrical touches upon the spiritual, they both have to do with a non-linear reading of existence.

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“Chelleneshin” by Yari Ostovany | Oil on Canvas | 2015

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“Conference of the Birds” by Yari Ostovany | Oil on Canvas | 2015

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“The Third Script” by Yari Ostovany | Oil on Canvas | 2015

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“Here Is Where We Meet (for John Berger)” by Yari Ostovany | Oil on Canvas | 2015

ZH: Abstract is a non-representational style without recognizable shapes and figures, but your art works carry an additional layer. A layer that your audience can feel that there is a strong cultural characteristic residing into the piece. What is the secret of this layer?

YO: The dichotomy between the “real” and the “abstract” has always been a fragile one for me. To me it is a question of distance. For example how can one say that the Hubble Space Telescope photos are not realistic? Yet they exude “abstraction” in all its glory.

In my own work, I look for a sense of resonance; a sense of transcendence. I assume that is the layer you are referring to. The pieces start and develop as elements come into being in response to one another and this relationship gets more and more involved and deeper as the work becomes more and more layered but as long as the whole has not become larger than the sum of its parts, that’s where they stay. That synergy, that shift is what gives the paintings breath, and thus, life and that is what I am after.

ZH: Your pieces have strong story telling…  How long does it take you to paint the story?

YO: I work in a non-linear way and on many pieces at the same time. The pieces develop at different tempi and they learn from one another as they evolve. So they take any where from a few days to a few years. At any given time I am finishing some pieces, there are pieces that I am starting to work on and ones that I am in the middle of. This allows me to become involved not with A painting, but with the process of painting and when pieces are finished, they become records of this journey.

ZH: If you want to describe “ABSTRACT” to people who are not familiar with the core of the style, how would you define it?

YO: The invention of photography freed painters from the hold of mimesis to turn their gaze inwards towards an inner landscape and allowed them to focus on the inherent emotional and psychological properties of light, material and space. Abstraction is going to the essence of what is at hand, what you are looking at without all that can be called unnecessary or superfluous.

The dichotomy between the “real” and the “abstract” has always been a fragile one for me. To me it is a question of distance. For example how can one say that the Hubble telescope photos are not realistic? Yet they exude “abstraction” in all its glory.

ZH: Thank you for being with us at ZH.

YO: Thank you for having me and keep up the great job!

 

Interview by Ali Shahrokhi & Medea Mahmoudian  

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