Every morning, the French-Iranian contemporary artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar enters his atelier nestled in the South of France, overlooking the stunning expanse of the ocean. Surrounded by nature, he immerses himself in meditation. This practice, honed over many years, has led him to his current success, transforming pain into purpose and creating a unique form of living art that embodies the energy of nature. At the age of 39, Behnam-Bakhtiar has already built a solid foundation as an acclaimed artist (including solo exhibitions with Sotheby’s Monaco and Philips London), known for transmuting the natural world he inhabits into an artistic experience.
Behnam-Bakhtiar’s life and personality are as multifaceted as his artworks. His existence is a vibrant blend of energy, knowledge, deep connection with nature, and a wide range of human emotions. His art aims to present the world with the language of energy and nature. He devotes months to his canvases, painstakingly laying down hundreds or even thousands of layers of organic paint before sculpting them with only a metal scraper’s flat edge
“The birth of this technique is rooted in an intuitive process, requiring me to wait until the paint has reached a specific stage of drying before gently scraping it away. This results in unique surface effects on each of my paintings.” he explains.
As he systematically adds these layers, he carefully tracks the gradual build-up of color, similar to a geological study of sediment layers. Behnam-Bakhtiar’s signature ‘peinture raclée’ style involves an intricate process of scraping and spreading numerous blends of vivid pigments. He then waits for the paint to dry to a certain degree before scraping it off. The result is a unique effect on the canvas surface.
“This method is akin to a meditative ritual in its own right. Every square created on the surface of the canvas symbolizes a transformative journey of energy.” Behnam-Bakhtiar adds.
For the artist, these layers are not just layers of color, but represent layers of energy, feelings, and time. He paints from one layer to another over several months or even years, creating complex works that reference human evolution, a prosperous way of life, the universal language, eternal feelings, self-awareness, and history. His artworks access the audience’s psyche, unlocking intuition and human sensitivity and instilling a sense of positive emotions and transcendence: “Recognizing that we are all composed of energy, it becomes a matter of attuning oneself to it, gaining comprehension, and establishing a connection. This is the essence of my artistic practice and the principle behind this technique“.
In keeping with his commitment to the planet, Behnam-Bakhtiar uses only 100% organic pigments sourced from natural stones in his paintings, merging artistry and sustainability.
His current solo exhibition, in collaboration with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and Sotheby’s in Monaco, reflects his dedication to the environment. Entitled ‘Ocean,’ the exhibition takes place within the historic Villa Girasole, the Foundation’s headquarters, from June 29th to September 15th, 2023.
It features 11 site-specific paintings and a human-sized enameled sculpture from Behnam-Bakhtiar’s abstract human figures collection. 50% of the earnings from the artist go towards the Foundation’s environmental initiatives.
This exhibition is an extension of Behnam-Bakhtiar’s earlier solo show at PhilipsX in London, entitled ‘The Age of Energy.’ In that show, the artist delved into the healing properties of trees and nature, unveiling a collection of paintings on which he had been meditating and working since 2019.
His atelier in the South of France is encircled by three prominent species of trees, each with its unique beauty, and contrast, yet all living harmoniously together. The oak trees, symbolizing wisdom, strength, and endurance, stand alongside pine trees, embodying rebirth and renewal, while palm trees represent peace, abundance, and victory. The varied energies from this natural environment provided the artist with insight and direction. These combined forces greatly shaped his inspiration, influencing not only his personal journey and life, but also his artistic expression.
Behnam-Bakhtiar about his approach: “Art, like everything else, is a manifestation of energy, as we ourselves are. Energy speaks its own distinct language, a language we can perceive when we still our minds and attune our senses. It’s a dynamic force, ever shifting, altering, and evolving, mirroring the ceaseless change in ourselves, life, and nature.“
Currently, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s artworks are on display at his “Ocean” solo exhibition in collaboration with the Fondation Prince Albert II of Monaco and Sotheby’s at Villa Garisole. They can also be seen at the Four Seasons Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat. Additionally, his pieces are featured in prominent private and corporate collections.