These Iranian brothers could be considered multidisciplinary. They have a message and their art is the most suitable medium to adequately express it. From a variety of social issues, ecological concerns and insights on the effects of capitalism unchecked, their firebrand art verges on the line of activism.
Coming from an oppressive society, at least in terms of self-expression, the pair moved to America for a life of freedom and in this juxtaposition they soon honed in on the grey area between the two - free and trapped, able and not. Public art is their means of communicating a notion, the idea that we're not only all able to share ideas in the West, but should be doing more of it.
Freedom is a versatile word, all the more so because we take it for granted. To some it's being allowed to take time off work, go on holiday or travel. To others it comes from a stable family life, from children and from the daily cycle. That's not so for Icy or Sot. Although these freedoms aren't even glossed over, their often radical (in content) works (although often more subtle in actuality) feel explosive, especially knowing their context.
Imagine a balloon or a kettle, pent up, boiling away, the pressure increasing bit-by-bit. There's a limit to both. It'll either boil over or pop. Icy and Sot's art has done just that. Everything they couldn't say then, they do now. They are compelled to stretch freedom to its absolute limits, demonstrating the place of art and thought in our daily lives, especially as opposed to the predominant narrative espoused by the mainstream media.
A recurring motif in their works are people and more particularly, in recent pieces, faces. This is about the individual - simultaneously who we are, what we're worth and what our part is in a larger system. They're visually bold and challenging, yet reflective of the human condition, imbued with a resounding melancholy that has a sting.
This duality of sentiment may arise from their formative artistic experience where they risked their lives creating work in their native country, using it as a counter-propaganda tool, forcing people's eyes to open and look beyond the confines of what they collectively knew as 'home.
An upcoming exhibition at Underdogs Lisbon, 'Faces of Society' hones in on the real-life effects of the world we live in, where their figures seem to be being pulled apart, screaming like a Rorschach test of emotion as the two bothers connect on a telekinetic level, both sides coming together in their works.
Contradictions arise in every aspect of our lives, mainly with the average person as the butt of the joke, the lowest rung on the ladder. This collection aims to highlights these concerns and more. In the words of the artists:
"This body of works is a reflection of our thoughts on the fast and complex society we are living in these days. All of these old rusty shovels, a pair of used working gloves, and a hand broom shaped into the silhouette of a working-class person symbolise the hard work these anonymous people put into society for a better life for all of us. They do so much yet don’t get enough in return, becoming kind of invisible in our society because of other people’s greed."
On one hand the face today is still personal, it differentiates everyone, but it's also global, at least in advanced stage capitalist societies, as something largely buried and hidden in technology. There are faces we see and faces we don't. In this collection, the dynamic duo examine whether that's a good or bad thing and they do so in typically thoughtful fashion.
A look through their back catalogue, which we'd thoroughly recommend doing, reflects not only society as a whole, but the way it has shifted over time, around the world and contextually to where the piece was conceived and executed. That means 'Faces of Society' is where they are right now - the sum of all the parts so far. So have a look, a think, and ask yourself - is there more to a face than the person behind it?
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