Traditionally the introduction of a painter's book is written by others. These "introduction_writes", using dramatic and poetic languages, close their eyes to the defects and exaggerate the beauties. Sometimes using excerpts from the works of foreign art critics and art lovers, they prepare a more fascinating introduction. I know that my writing can never equal theirs in enticement, but I still prefer to do it myself.
There is no need for me to be introduced from a famous author's or a prominent poet's point of view, or to be decorated with artful and fashionable works and idioms or to look larger that what I am in a hollow of ambiguity. Therefore, I simply write what is necessary for young artists to learn, the other to deliberate.
I was born in Tehran in July the second 1943, to a middle-class and art-loving family. I lost my father when I was seven. My up-bringing vested on my mother and my elder brother who was a nineteen-years old second year law student.
I was painting a lot. Why ? I really don't know. Maybe I had a natural disposition or talent for painting. There was neither a teacher nor any equipment, but my family's encouragement gave warmth to my soul.
Compared to today's children who are preoccupied with T.V., Video recorders and computers(and we often hear that they have cracking nerves and no time!) I had lots of spare time and I usually used it for painting. My school teachers, when seeing my work, like a pre-recorded tape message, always said that it wasn't my work.
I do not want to tire the reader with the details of those years. My childhood and teenage years were spent on education, sports and painting. In 1960, I was introduced to graphics, better described as advertising art. I could earn money while studying.
Doing this in those days with the little primitive equipment, is not comparable with today. Design printing was in its infancy and using photography was not common.
In short, my need for a paying job drew me back from painting and tied me down with graphics. Nevertheless, I lost no opportunity to paint. In the summer of 1962 I worked in my brother's studio. He was a prominent painter himself, but due to different preoccupations I couldn't continue for more than a few months."The Dangerous Game" pencil on paper
I wasn't satisfied with what was happening and thought that I was wasting a God-sent talent. Besides, the limited ambitions of advertising were not enough to satisfy my thirsty soul. Gradually I developed a liking for gouache. For I could either use it for graphics or to keep the love of painting alive in my mind.
I bought all the necessary equipment and started to work. The others were telling me that this was a foreigner's speciality, but I wouldn't listen. I studied the works of masters in this field, practicing all the time without any teacher. Gradually, very gradually, my works were taking form. Within some years I became proficient in my work.
Until 1974-75 color photography in Iran was in its initial stages and it couldn't answer the needs. Therefore I used to draw everything needed for commercial brochures and the printing of advertisements, be it industrial machinery or people. Many foreign advertisements specialists who came to Iran for industrial projects, couldn't or wouldn't believe that all these works were done here.
Although it was a difficult job and not to my liking, it increased my skill until I wasn't afraid to draw any thing or figure or shape. I made good money as well, but still I thought of myself as an instrument for the completion of industrial power's diversion and splendor, an instrument without meaning in the consumption chain.
In 1974, organizing the Tehran International Graphics Exhibition was entrusted to me by the I.A.A. World Organization. Its successful completion confirmed my professional position. But still I wasn't satisfied, I had a hallow feeling. In my loneliness in the street, in parks, wherever I had the chance, I drew sketches. Late at night I wrote my thoughts in the form of pre-designs on paper.
During these years I made numerous letter heads, company signs, brochures, newspaper ads, transfer decals and stickers, boxes, visiting cards, book covers and more that one hundred color posters.
But, as I said before, they weren't satisfying and the depression resulting from them being unreal, was torturing me.
I spent my spare time to karate to increase my mental and physical abilities. In June 1979, for the first time in Iran, I was able to acquire the Black Belt. In later years, I trained some very capable students in this field. Many of those right now are among the higher ranks and always have been a source of personal fulfillment to me."The Hands of a Music Player" (1988), pencil on paper, 56x35 cm
I married in 1973. The fruits of my marriage are a girl of 13 and a boy of 12. During the years I left the heavy sport behind and divided my available time to two parts: 1) Eight hours of professional painting a day to make my living, and 2) All the other times even on holidays or late at nights, was devoted to painting for myself.
Because I had no teacher it was necessary to personally experience everything. This was difficult and time consuming. My purpose was neither to sell my works nor to show them to anyone. I just wanted to learn. I was looking for an instrument to better describe my feelings.
Gradually, I left behind all the other tools which I was using till that time except pencil. I devoted most of my time to oil painting. Because oil had such a vast application in painting. It took about eight years until I was able to repeat my water-color experience with oil color !
Naturally there was some criticism as well. I memorized the good points and forgot the others, just like before. Someone asked how long had I been working and I answered that I was painting from childhood and I had been working, professionally, for more than 30 years. He asked again if it was worth sacrificing my best years of life for a few paintings and I answered that for me it was, because it hasn't been a selection. It was formed out of necessity.
There is a famous saying that, experiencing and thinking, however incomplete and even including mistakes, is better than idleness and the foolishness that follows as consequence. The fear of thinking and working, only to avoid mistakes, is a servere hindrance to human being connection to evolution and creativeness.
Nevertheless, I will not stop going my own way, and I get my inspirations from pure art to lead me to a straight road and the mirror of my heart reflects "him" and the idols of the people who I love with all my being.Morteza Katouzian