Kamyar Bineshtarigh was born in 1996 in Semnan, Iran. He lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently in his final year, completing a BA Fine Art degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town (UCT). He received a Diploma in Fine Art at Ruth Prowse School of Art in 2019 where he also won the Ruth Prowse Award for his body of work An Exhaustive Catalogue of Texts Dealing with the Orient which explored Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism using Said’s eponymous book (1978) as the source material.
In 2021 Bineshtarigh was awarded a Creative Knowledge Resources (CKR) Fellowship: CKR is an interdisciplinary project by the National Research Foundation & UCT studying socially engaged artistic practices in Africa and its diaspora. In the same year, Bineshtarigh has participated in a number of group exhibitions including My Whole Body Changed Into Something Else at Stevenson Gallery (Cape Town and Johannesburg) and Shaping Things at SMAC Gallery (Cape Town). Inspired by the freedom that comes with a DIY-spirit, between 2020 and 2021 Bineshtarigh curated his own independent solo show showcasing his body of work (Hafez) The Tongue of the Unseen Realms in an exhibition space in a factory warehouse in Salt River, Cape Town.
Bineshtarigh’s debut solo exhibition – Pilgrim – opened at Everard Read/CIRCA Gallery (Cape Town) as part of their cubicle series in 2019.
Bineshtarigh works in a variety of media, most notably painting and video. His conceptual concerns range from language, (mis)communication as well as the practice of writing and transliteration. He is also interested in geopolitical concerns of movement, migration and the (in)voluntary displacement of human beings. Many of his paintings feature aspects of Farsi script and calligraphy. These textual elements are often either broken up into pieces or paired down to a single painterly gesture: from drawing parallels between pages of text such as Bineshtarigh’s large scale mural that transliterated passages of Edward Said’s Orientalism in Farsi and Arabic script on the façade of Association for Visual Arts Gallery (2019); to his Pilgrim (2019) series where he painted abstracted bodies in meditative piety reminiscent of the pilgrims attending Hajj in Mecca through his minimal repetitive mark-making technique. Meanwhile, Bineshtarigh’s video works straddle the distinctions between cinema, documentary and video art. He utilises cinematic techniques inspired by the Iranian New Wave to poetically convey themes of displacement, conversely drawing on his own experiences of moving from Iran to South Africa in the depiction of his subjects.
koples boek(e) is an exhibition by Kamyar Bineshtarigh that explores the textuality of Arabic-Afrikaans, curated by Amogelang Maledu. It forms part of an ongoing research project to stimulate conversation about the public narratives and archives of Arabic-Afrikaans.
The exhibition was first presented at the Goethe Institut, Johannesburg, South Africa between 20 November 2021 and 31 March 2022.
Artist statement for Untitled (Ghazal no.359,39,389,198)
This project constitutes 60+ ghazals of Hafez at 60+ moments of uncertainty. For centuries, it has been a Persian tradition to consult Hafez when confronted with a difficult decision. This practice is called “Fal-e Hafez” (the divination of Hafez). When used in divination, it is believed that Divan of Hafez will reveal the answer to one’s question; therefore his Divan was referred to as Lesan al-Ghayb (the Tongue of the Unseen Realms). These 60+ ghazals are my “Fals of Hafez” as the bases of this body of work.
Hafez, of the 13th Century, is considered the most prominent Persian poet. His influence is felt to this day. His poetry expresses love, spirituality, and religious hypocrisy. Perhaps the most intriguing element of Hafez’s poetry is its ambiguity: it is almost impossible to pin down any of his verses. Journalist Omid Safi once described Hafez’s work as “a Rorschach psychological test in poetry”. Hafez is a mystic himself. His name means “who has committed the Quran to heart”. Yet Hafez despises religious hypocrisy. His faith is indisputable, and yet his poetry is filled with references to intoxication and wine that may be literal, according to seculars, or symbolic, to religious conservatives.