SARADIPOUR Art Gallery, or in short, SARAI – denoting house or palace in Persian – is a contemporary gallery dedicated first and foremost to introducing Middle Eastern visual arts. Founded by Hassan Saradipour in 2018, our gallery serves as a platform to showcase emerging and established artists internationally by organizing exhibitions, defining regional and international competitions and joint events, and publishing works by artists. SARAI currently has exhibition spaces in Iran where we host several shows per year, and our LA-based gallery office handles US and international affairs and events.
SARADIPOUR Art (SARAI) Gallery is pleased to present “The Eliminated”, a solo presentation of red and flesh-toned paintings by Ali Zakeri. With its destructive power, vicious cycle and dark, enigmatic attraction, violence and its many faces have long been the subject of countless debates and polarized views from complete condemnation to the celebration of violence as ‘a life-force’ and an important component of human nature. This dark, insatiable beast has equally allured artists leading to the creation of a myriad of masterpieces depicting crucifixion scenes, battlefields, and assassinations with mutilated bodies, often in graphic details. Having been at the battlefront as a young man, Ali Zakeri (b. 1959) belongs to a generation of Iranian artists who have lived through countless periods of turmoil including a revolution, many episodes of social unrest, and power abuse, historic events that are synonymous with dramatic changes, redefinition of moral values and last but not least, violence in massive scales, and it would only be natural, even inevitable, for the artist to dedicate part of his career to this theme.
Boxing is a well-known and highly practiced sport in Iran and a very familiar image in the Iranian subconscious mind. Bas-reliefs of fist-fighting scenes from thousands of years ago can be found across the country. Zakeri’s series of fights are universal images of violence for violence’s sake. By portraying boxers fighting endlessly in a ring with no cheering crowds, Ali Zakeri has aimed to reveal a masked, embellished brand of violence, the kind that is legitimized in our modern civilization as a sport, widely encouraged to participate in, watch, and ultimately enjoy. As a painter who has long explored the human figure within various compositional forces, Ali Zakeri focuses on one-on-one combats; an intense, painfully close kind of violence. His works do not always directly represent the act of violence, rather its apprehension or anticipation in an eternalized moment of suspense. Of equal visual and symbolic significance are the bare floors and the dark negative spaces engulfing the fighting figures, intensifying their loneliness and reminding us of the invisible power structures that perpetuate the reproduction of violence, turning the fighter into an image of humanity in an endless battle of survival. Forms and figures readily oscillate between the representational and abstract realms under the visual energy of violence. The result, however, is far from sickly or bitter; rather, it is a visual banquet of vibrant colors and various forms, inviting us to revisit uncomfortable truths about what it means to be human.