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In Davood Emdadian's Studio

Author : Shamim Sabzevari

Reading Time : 5 Minutes

Human figures, domestic environments, or still lifes can be traced in Davood Emdadian's paintings. Still, the specific characteristic of his works, which has also become his artistic signature, is a tall, stout tree with abundant, compact leaves that occupies a considerable space on the canvas. The tree causes the human's everlasting dream to come true; that is, to unite the land and sky, the spiritual and earthly world, or the mortal and immortal. The trees in Emdadian's paintings reflect this metaphysical attitude which is deeply rooted in Persian thought and is, of course, combined with a type of Western Romanticism in engaging with nature.  

Davood Emdadian | Personal studio in Paris | 2001 | Photographer: Soheila Niknam, artist's wife | Image courtesy: Davood Emdadian Foundation

Davood Emdadian was born in 1944 in Tabriz. Since childhood, he has been highly interested in classical paintings, especially Russian landscapes. He drew his first painting from postcards. He learned the basic principles of art at Mirak Art School in Tabriz. Then he moved to Tehran and studied at the Decorative Arts Faculty. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1970, he decided to take up art instruction earnestly. So he went to France and graduated in Plastic arts from the Sorbonne University in Paris. Besides all this, his best instructor was himself.  

He narrated the world of nature, objects, and humans. He was inspired by the variety of colors, soft lines, and divided surfaces in familiar landscapes. He painted them proficiently, resulting in images that sometimes seem wonderful and strange, and sometimes intimate and familiar.  

It depends on our viewpoint and understanding to consider Emdadian, either an artist who loves nature or a painter who attempts to examine the painterly experience of nature to its utmost. In his paintings, Persian miniatures and the influence of various Western art schools are visible, from Romanticism and Realism to Impressionism and even Cubism. It is important to note that despite the straightforward content and the recurring subject, he didn't get caught in an abyss of repetition and craftsmanship. Instead of imitating the methods prevalent in the era and repeating Western art, using extreme contrasts between lights and shadows, or unreasonable fractures in form, he tried to look deep into everything and explore forms, colors, orders, and even the subject. What he depicts is clearly identical to the nature and the real world; the reality that he lived and perceived.  

Davood Emdadian | Untitled | 1983 | oil | 65 × 65 cm

Appearing as huge masses of color that carry a secret inside, Emdadian's trees attract the viewers. As symbolic and dignified entities, these omnipresent observing trees, visualize the dream of eternity, which has always been longed-for but remained out-of-reach. Still, it acts as a center of gravity in Emdadian's paintings. He has designed the identity of the space beneath the trees. Sometimes a tiny phantom-like but active human figure stands right next to the trunk of a tree which has occupied the whole area. This image presents the human's vulnerable existence compared to nature's grandeur. It may even be a translation of some sort of meditation that links the human to unlimitedness and infinity. His paintings of humans present such an approach toward the world and nature as well.  

Everything is immersed in a kind of peace and repose, and a soft light illuminates the house's space and humans' faces. The way he plays with lights and shadows doesn't completely separate them. Based on changes in the sunlight, green colors subtly alter toward yellows, and the red leaves gradually change their color to orange. This is a considerable unity of greens, yellows, oranges, and reds; a classical heritage to which Emdadian has remained faithful.  


Davood Emdadian | Personal studio in Paris | 2001 | Photographer: Soheila Niknam, artist's wife | Image courtesy: Davood Emdadian Foundation


In 1984, Emdadian moved to this home studio with his family. It was a two-story house located on 19th Paris avenue in the northeastern region of Paris. It is situated near the Canal de L'ourcq and Parc des Buttes Chaumont, one of the oldest parks in Paris with beautiful trees in which, according to Emdadian's son, he spent a lot of time.  

Green shrubs and natural plants are placed all over Emdadian's studio, which is now preserved by his family. This is not unexpected since the artist's character is defined by the connection between human life and nature. The juxtaposition of painting canvases and green, lively leaves, which the artist always followed, has created a calming atmosphere. Books are arranged neatly on a big bookshelf, and several of his famous paintings in various frames are installed on the wall next to it. Interestingly, their frames vary significantly. Most of them are simple and black, while the other is a luxurious, golden frame. In another part of this wall, multiple portrait photographs are arranged on top of each other. A radio is placed on a table in front of the wide window, and a lot of brushes, paints, pencils, and other painting tools are on the shelf. Different colors and similar forms of Emdadian's multiple canvases of big trees hanging from the room's arch are juxtaposed impressively. They direct the viewer's attention toward the top and convey the concept of eternity and connection to the sky; such a mindful choice! Besides the wooden table with the chairs around it, and the sofa with colorful, patterned cushions, there is a framed portrait of a woman's profile, placed behind the fresh plants and next to other frames as if she is an audience in the room, and the work is created for her, and she is now observing everything. This joyful studio has the scent of life and tells us about an artist whose life and art were interrelated.  



Cover and slider image:

  • Davood Emdadian | Opening of his solo show at  Musée Paul-Landowski

Courtesy of images: Davood Emdadian Foundation

Photos of the artist's studio by:  Oldouz Nabizadeh