Artist Bio: Hessam Abrishami

Born in the city of Shiraz, Iran, in 1951, Hessam was the son of middle-class parents and one of eight brothers and sisters. He attended public schools until his graduation from high school, after which he served in his country's military service for two years. It was not until he was 15 years of age that, through the inspiration and encouragement of a high school teacher who was himself an artist, Hessam discovered both his love of art and his talent for painting. He soon became obsessed with painting.

After his military service, Hessam decided to go to Italy-"the center of art in Europe"-to study. He completed a Master's Degree in Fine Arts at the Accademi De Belle Arti "Pietro Vanucci" in Perugia. Although he pursued his love of portraiture by concentrating on realistic painting and special studies in anatomy, he also developed his talent further by studying in other styles-Impressionism, surrealism, Cubism, and other modernist styles.

Hessam notes that he was influenced most by the artistic atmosphere in Italy in general, saying "colors were bright and the atmosphere was quiet and relaxed. I didn't set out to use bright colors; they just came out. This is important. I don't give any direction to my paintings. Any colors I use just come from my feelings. I don't think about bright colors or dark colors or lines or anything. Whatever comes, that's good enough for me."

His subsequent return to Iran had a profound effect on his artwork. He found Iran in a state of revolution; the social atmosphere was darker, activity more frenetic and the general mood less relaxed. His resulting anger was immediately seen in his paintings; they became less realistic, their subjects darker with more overall movement.

During this stay in Iran, Hessam collaborated with a friend on a book of paintings and poetry titled Screams. Its powerful religious and political overtones proved to be unacceptable to the Iranian government and Hessam soon left for Italy and, eventually, the U.S.

Hessam continues to expand his creativity, exploring the fluidity of human figures. As the French press has aptly stated, "He creates a tension between each figure, a kinship of place or condition that provokes the viewer to seek reasons for such relationships."