Bijan Rafaty is among those painters whose awareness of their surrounding makes them a part of that “environment”; painters who try to decipher the nuances and meanings of that environment, and to show the threats, adventures, and ambiguities of life in that environment. They try to understand the realities and pretences of peoples’ lives from the past to the present, and to demonstrate how people play a role in certain events and affect them directly, and how change –both in the sense of transforming them and their environment- and fear of uncertainty and confusion make them struggle and react to the horror of their disintegrating lives. They are all well aware of the trepidations, volatility and fear of a world where “nothing is certain”.
Then again, there is another existence that is contrary to life –surrendering to the organizational and bureaucratic authority that has the power to control and often destroy all societies, values and lives. Nevertheless, it is with determination and courage that men confront these oppressions and change “that world” and make it theirs. This can be either a revolutionary act or a conservative one, an energetic and dynamic act in the face of new possibilities or an adventurous one; both of which in my opinion are manifested in Rafaty’s work. He himself has said:
“I made a big hole in the boat and tried my whole life learning to swim back to the starting point.”
During his career, Rafati has gone through different periods, “Memory series”, “Migration, “City series”, “Cover up series” and “in Plato’s cave series”, which I believe are the most valuable periods of his career. In these works, there is a tangible sense of today’s ideas, beliefs and concepts. What is clearly reflected in Rafaty’s work is whether one decides to struggle out of desperation or act heroically, and maybe lose at times. Ivan Karamazov (in Dostoyevsky’s Karamazov Brothers) said, “Death of children, more than anything in this world, makes him wish for death”. But he doesn’t do that. He continues to struggle and continues to love. He persists. Rafaty also persists.
Mohammad Reza Jodat
Architect and member of the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning at Shahid Beheshti University