18 June, 2018 | Share Article
A strong reason for continuing life
It was about 5pm while the rain was causing a huge traffic jam in Tehran much more terrible than ever. We could finally reach to the CAMA gallery, where Ahmadreza Ahmadi’s paintings have been fitted on the walls and the light coming from the large window of the gallery through Pelargoniums hits the frame of paintings, along with a light classical music with Ahmadreza Ahmadi’s declamation have filled the atmosphere of the gallery. Before the paintings make audiences stirring to them, a memo from Ahmadreza Ahmadi attracts the visitors’ attention: “watercolour paintings were neither out of pleasure nor a show off. They were done during the days of my complete spiritual destruction which had conquered me. Those depressing days, when the earth runs away under my feet and the sky had fallen so low that it made me strangled. Initially, I started with fear.
A friend of mine, Abolfazl Hemmati Ahouei, was trying to comfort me and taking me to his atelier.
His young students, with lively faces, were encouraging me to paint. Any word related to painting were reminding me of my first book named Tarh, that Masoud Kimiaei saved me from forgetting myself. Every Wednesdays I was going to my friend, Hemmati’s atelier and he was patiently watching paintings. In the days of forgetfulness, my life was getting polished, transparent and clear. Although I knew the land was rugged, and the hour of demise was near. As I knew the battery implanted in my heart is my compass. Therefor watercolours born with the given instructions by my friend and the days slowly started to become pleasant. Consider these watercolours, as the reflection of the days of the destruction of my soul and body. Whatever reason you give for continuing life, the death is blind and deaf. However, the lovers’ footprint will remain in snow and it will not melt.
Ahmadreza Ahmadi is sitting in one of the rooms of the gallery, waiting for his guests. After a while Aidin Aghdashlou, Nahid Tabatabaei and Tekin Aghdashlou arrived. Ahmadreza Ahmadi and Aghdashlou’s visitation is spectacular. After hugging, their conversation begins with simple greeting. Aghdashlou, who is impatiently waiting to see the paintings, moves towards the tableaus. Ahmadreza Ahmadi, along with his wife and daughter, stands beside Aghdashlou and their conversations are occasionally interrupted by camera shutter and photo requests. For them, the best place to take a few minutes to talk about themselves, is the gallery manager’s office. As Aidin Aghdashlou describes, the night belongs to Ahmadreza Ahmadi and Aghdashlou is excited to talk about his feeling, when encountering paintings by his long-time friend: “It was fascinating for me, I had no clue and he never mentioned that he paints for himself. He never showed me any instance. It was unexpected and unpredictable for me. I enjoyed the deep inner world that he presented, his paintings are created following a transparent spirit as a tool that by being placed in the hands of an extraordinary person, in anything he does will be revealed; just in the hands of an extraordinary person. Like the works by Henri Michaux, the poet that each single written line by him had been created following his soul, without making grimace.
Ahmadreza Ahmadi is sitting beside Aghdashlou and he is listening carefully to his words and is willing to hear about the shortcomings of his works. Aghdashlou, but still is admiring his paintings: “I thought I would go to Ahmadreza’s exhibition and tease him, and we will wrestle (laughter). I am not intended to say things to imply politeness or kindness, it should have been predictable that your soul manifests in this way.”
Nahid Tabatabaei, who was listening to Aghdashlou’s comments, asked him about the artists’ desire to for entering other fields of art; as an instance, could a poet express his/ her feeling better in paintings or this is a kind of spiritual need? Aghdashlou responds immediately: “many of directors around the world were either painting or were painters too, such as David Lynch, Fellini and many others. In my opinion, this cannot be correct that they were unable to express the concept in their thoughts using their own profession and feel a necessity for stepping in other fields; rather I think they suddenly feel like they want to do this too, and they do. Whether the result will be as they expected or not, is something that one needs to wait to see. We will see the result. This does not apply to everyone. Sometimes it happens when it comes to Ahmad Reza’s works, a spirit full of humour and overwhelming, like Fellini, painting should be searched through the graphic or caricature genre, which flows on the route. Allame Tabatabaei had been asked: “why do u write poems?” He replied: “well, I just write poems”, no need to think.
The shared memories between Ahmadi and Aghdashlou's are being told, which make everyone laugh, especially when they talk about their shared memories among their conversation. However, Ahmadi would like to talk about what Aghdashlou mentioned: “Painting happened at the same time as my poetry, its result is a book printed for the exhibition entitled Tabestan Va Gham (Summer and Grief). These two were simultaneous and like two parallel lines, I tried to move forward string, I am glad that he came for visiting the exhibition of my works and hearing his comments regarding the exhibition, after the two years of separation. In fact, all these days I was thinking about him and sorrowed for him. I got worried once heard the news of his illness, thankfully, it was not serious. Today I am thinking that if I have brought him a book, I would write this sentence in the beginning: “Aidin, I have reached to the finish line, how about you?”; Then he replied: “We are two horses of one carriage; each one falls, another one falls.” Ahmadi looks at Aghdashlou, recalls their memories, the memories which is interesting and audible for Aghdashlou too. Ahmadi talks about their 65-years-old friendship, about their fathers, that both lived for 60 years and both loved their mothers. This time, it is Ahmadi’s turn to talk about his friend and his feeling about Aghdashlou's work: “Aiding and I, were always doing different works beside our main work. As an example, Aidin writes a cinematic essay professionally, more importantly, he is one of the ministers in contemporary Persian prose. Therefore, his work is commendable that he understands and writes the story. Kamran Shirdel always says: “whenever I am travelling, I take Aidin’s books with me, one for airplane and one for hotel”. We have always moved together, we have many interests in common, for example we both love Saadi and Obeid Zakani. Aidin knows Obeid’s poems by heart and understands irony very well. It is not a praise, as we have reached to an age, in which, what we say might be our testament (laughter). In fact, there is no one left among my friends except of Aidin and Masoud Kimiaei, who are my only friends. We lost many of our friends like Bahman Mohases, Sohrab Sepehri and many more, or they have left this country, and these are the only friends that I have; as doctors say, we do not accept new patient (laughter). Kimiaei always says: “we will continue to ninety years old limping. Ahmadi looks around and when he sees Aidin Aghdashlou’s son, he recalls many memories. He enjoys talking about their past. While talking, he remembers the day that Aidin and Ahmad met for the first time: “I was working in my uncle’s book store named “Andisheh”, one of the most reputable publishers of the time. Aidin also was in the Pars atelier in an alley, in front of ours. We became friends, and he wrote the first critique on my poetry. He was writing articles on poems, usually under name of Faramarz Khabiri. Each time I was meeting Aydin, I was cursing Faramarz Khabiri, until after revolution, I realized that he was Faramarz Khabiri (laughter). We both have worked since we were 16, 17 years old and this year we both will be turned to 78 years old and during these years we have never stopped working. We had very good moments with each other. I know Sohrab Shahid Sales through Aidin. He always supported us and was so kind to me. Ahmadi talks about the days when he was working in Institute of the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults : “I have never been an employee, I was the first person who encouraged MR Shajarian to record a platter, as those days Iranian music was getting degraded. Banan, Khaledi and many more, were not working with radio anymore. We were working during those days too. Those years many famous directors came out of the institute; like Kiarostami, Naderi and Beyzaei, and they did great jobs. The institute was strange. Young people were trusted and none of us is regretful for passing the life in that institute.”
Aghdashlou, who is listening to Ahmadi, recalls the life passed with him: “it was about one or two years ago I told to Ahmadreza do not be a heart-broken person, you are now the most popular Iranian poet. I think people have been grateful to you. Ahmadreza cannot grumble and imply that has been a forgotten poet or isolated, as it is not true. Ahmadreza had experienced hardness and had been physically hurt. The world around him has, somehow, taken care of him and praised him, but in a bigger scale, they have never fulfilled their responsibilities. The meaning of his poem is entirely grace. He is always sad, but not to seek justice or complain. He looks at the flowers and enjoy, he is not sad that he does not go down the stairs, and just looking at them from above. By looking at Ahmadreza, I can see how strong he is and how pure is his soul.” People who are visiting the exhibition are waiting to meet Ahmadreza Ahmadi and as Aghdashlou says, “tonight belongs to Ahmadi”. At the end, Ahmadi mentions the generation witnessing war and happenings on 28th of Mordad. He remembers the time, when he and Masoud Kimiaei decided to watch a film and could hardly go to the cinema and compares it to the current era, that although everything is accessible for the new generation they do not try to discover. “Most of the artists who born in 1940, they did something; like me, Aidin Aghdashlou, Mohamadreza Shajarian and Sepanlou. Number of people who has come to visit the exhibition has been increased and it is time for Ahmadi to go to his guests. Ahmadi and Aghdashlou’s short meeting ends in a memorable spring day. Ahmadreza Ahmadi with his fans are talking and he is signing the books, which is containing his paintings and poetries.