Illumination: Salma Arastu
By Fatima S. Khan
played while Ama cooked the dinner
Salma Arastu explores
in her artwork, the universe, the heavens above, the depth
of the ocean below, the imagery of colorful vibrant festivities
of the spring celebrations and the horrors of 9/11; she
connects with the most important factor of human life “Emotion”.
She expresses “emotion” in hugging, compassion,
solace, celebration, birth and death and conveys multitudes
of sub-textual messages while capturing happiness or sadness
and a sense of frailty in every expression of her sumptuous
and colorful artwork.
According to Freud, human race has one common quest: “Happiness”.
She moved to a level of expression in her paintings after
9/11. Like all of us, who grieved and faced reality of such
danger in our everyday life, she profoundly expressed the
grief and compassion in many of her artworks - making an
effort to reach out for comfort and peace, that is the major
factor of eliminating “doubt” from our everyday
life. However, spirituality resonates and is buried deep
in her psyche; she embraces the idea of the “omnipotent”
as an all-encompassing and positive force that is always
there and helps us all to draw positive energies from within
festival of lights
Salma has traveled and lived in several cities around the
world. At present she lives in Oakland California; her highly
sensitive nature imbues cultures and scenes of those places,
the manifestation is than an expression of fascinating and
lyrical artwork. She vividly portrays the bustling and colorful
scenes of the bazaar in Tehran, a mixed media on canvas.
She borrows the miniature techniques from the Mughal era
and artfully encompasses Spanish influenced architecture
in California in a square format. The geometrics are a highly
popular form of Islamic art, whereas a cube relates to the
“Kaaba,” a sacred place for Muslims all over
Brilliantly she archives the childhood memories of story
telling, music lessons, family meals, leisure time all within
a square; unconsciously she has saved these happy memories.
The “Cube” relates to the spiritual, there are
several nuances relating to the “Cube”.
She moved to Northern California in 2006, when she adapted
the Miniature techniques, Spanish-influenced architecture,
the childhood memories and the sacrilegious boundaries of
a home all within the sacred “Cube” - it is
most importantly a reflection of the past and present coming
into full circle and, most importantly, a prayer for protection.
The fall festival
Salma has courageously explored several forms of art, including,
sculpture, calligraphy and digital art.
While living in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, she often took a
train to New York to explore museums and art galleries;
the towering structures and throngs of people everywhere
fascinated her, and she has inanimately overlapped digital
images of photography with pen and ink outlines of people.
Images of several people in groups, with just an outline
and no specific features once again have a deep message
Her sculptures are dancing angels, a perfect symbol of optimism;
they are carefree, jovial and floating. She draws an outline
on paper and her metal crafters precisely carve the metals.
The process is elaborating, detailed, and takes several
At times, her style resembles that of Picasso’s more
strongly in “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon”.
While Picasso struggled to unravel the complexities of feminine
nature, Salma quite comfortably portrays the feminine “Emotional”
in strong colors with flowing garbs a sense of freedom,
the faces with no features, expertly transcending to the
level of “Unity.” According to her “we
are all one,” a deeply philosophical and a Sufi thought
that Picasso failed to understand.
Salma Arastu’s paintings have been exhibited at several
galleries throughout the world. At present, she is exhibiting
at Stanford Art Spaces, Stanford University, Palo Alto,
April 27 thru July 25. For further information contact Mary