Nima Arabi

Nima Arabi
York University (Toronto, ON)

I am a Toronto-based visual artist exploring self-reflection and self-discovery through a practice of drawing and sculpture. Although unique and independent media, I am interested in creating unity by bringing drawing and sculpture together in the form of installation art.
My art consists of two main segments: traditional drawing (two-dimensional), and expanded approaches to drawing (three-dimensional paper-based). It highlights poems, calligraphy, figures, sequences, architectural elements, and space. Drawing from personal history, my art explores Persian mystical traditions, particularly the concept of the reachable, the external (zahir), and the unreachable, the internal (batin). Based on these teachings, my art practice seeks to transform the exhibition space through my work and create an experience of unity that brings together the artist, the gallery space, and the viewer, into one Whole. 

Geometric patterns in Persian architecture, such as tiling, molding, and mirroring, inspire my geometric sculptures. These patterns, as important elements of Iranian visual culture that I grew up in, are visually reachable. However, the infinity and complexities of these seamless patterns make them unreachable. Borrowing three-dimensional visualization of these patterns from the Persian muqarnas (ornamental vault) in my geometric sculptures, I bring reachable and unreachable into one piece of art.

Almost all Persian mystics, such as Rumi, insist on contemplating the internal as the main method to discover the external. Drawing is a meditative process that takes me on an inward journey. Through the exploration of ideas, concepts, bodies, faces, scripts, and dreams, I observe my inner self in my drawings. Drawing activates my unreachable internal self and allows me to reach it. Drawing, as a practice inseparable from self-searching, is capable of manifesting the oneness of being through bridging the reachable and unreachable. An ongoing exploration of self-portraiture, including expressive and observational portraits, is a primary means for me to investigate this relationship. 

Paper with its historical and contemporary background in mark-making culture is connected to the idea of reachable and unreachable. It has been examined but still performs new capability in contemporary art. To benefit from this potential, I employ non-exclusive paper-based industrial materials, such as packaging cardboard and flooring paper in my practice. Through my drawing and sculpture, the intention of these materials as a container or cover is redefined. My artistic process seeks to expose the cover or container as the main element of the artwork.