By Tara Biglari
Bijan Daneshmand is known to moviegoers for his roles in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated “Munich” (2005) and in the British-American miniseries “The Night Manager” (2016). Daneshmand has also been spending a lot of time in another kind of studio, pursuing his lifelong passion: painting.
An exhibition of his work, ‘Infinite Truths,’ recently took place in London at his tucked-away atelier in Notting Hill, one of a number of shows he has had in the U.K., Iran and China. In unconventional fashion, Bijan converted the atelier – which is connected to his private home – into an exhibition space to display his works. Equipped with a kitchen, the space was filled with loud conversation, traditional Persian drinks and a diverse array of finger food during the opening event.
The exhibition consisted of 12 paintings that Bijan has worked on throughout the year, which are all different sizes and include small, iron-pressed wax images. Curator Ana Carolina Rodrigues chose the works and displayed them in such a way as to take the viewer on an artistic journey. The paintings feature mostly dark colors in spider-like patterns.
Bijan has been drawing since his childhood, and opted out of an architecture degree for a civil engineering one abroad. Because of the 1979 Revolution, any hopes of returning to Iran after completing his studies were put on hold – indefinitely – while Bijan pursued a business career before launching into creative pursuits fulltime about 14 years ago.
“I do painting to be affective, not effective,” Bijan explained. “I like to do the thinking, lay out the design, and then apply the paint so I’m no longer thinking about what to do next.”
As his curator Rodrigues explained during the private view, Daneshmand’s paintings depict “this place where time does not exist. Maybe space without time.”
Bijan operates on a philosophy of repetition and difference. This notion comes through in his paintings, specifically “Hazlitt” and “Blake,” where the same pattern is repeated yet changed intermittently to create a similar yet different perspective.
“I believe the whole universe is run on repetition and difference – I think the Big Bang happened as such,” Bijan said. “Repetition of events, and somehow a difference, a disturbance, an equilibrium. Even my existence is from repetition and difference!”
This guiding principle has roots in Bijan’s philosophical interests. He has named several paintings after seminal philosophers such as German writer Thomas à Kempis and Indian thinker Gadadhara Pandita. Bijan hopes to inspire deeper thinking through his works.
This notion also translates into the way in which he paints in his studio. “He literally assumes: ‘when I’m painting, I’m just painting – I’m not thinking about anything else’,” curator Rodrigues said. “He likes to be immersed.”
Discussing his other influences, Bijan pointed to Islamic architecture and explained how patterns, grids and Persian Girih tile work in Iranian mosques and government buildings had inspired his practice. This is seen in his painting “Bassett,” where the repetition of tile work and the flashes of turquoise bear the traces of Islamic design.
What’s next? “I’ve got a whole series coming ahead that’s totally different,” Bijan cheered. “This show is a way to close the chapter on this hard-edged, organized, grid-like work.”
Click here for more information about the exhibition.