Farsad Labbauf was born in 1965 in Tehran, Iran. After thirteen years, he moved to the United States just after the revolution. Upon arriving in the U.S., he enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design where he studied industrial design, which infiltrated some of his earlier works as did his fascination with materials and how things are put together. Although he began painting at a very young age, Farsad neither received nor believed in formal training in painting. He feels that such creativity comes from within and cannot be taught.
The pieces exhibited here were completed during a period in his mid-30s. At this time, Labbauf became preoccupied with ideas of perception. In his Self-Portrait, he grapples with how one conceptually understands an image versus how the actual physical image is seen. This self introspection and interest in perception and the layers of reality can be recognized as a search for meaning in, and an explanation of, his youth. The pieces reflect the turbulent times experienced during revolution. Engaging the viewer with his personal vision, Labbauf has used paint as a talisman to transform both himself and the observer in creating his earlier visceral works. Through these robust works, his paintings find their way into their own unique form of expression.
His paintings are highly emotional; the rapid and stiff brushstrokes reflect a contemplative and depressed disposition. The mood of these works reflects Labbauf’s inner psyche and his feelings about his past, especially his past in Iran. He explains: “it has been an inner process for me, an inner knowing that I’ve followed. So, basically I’ve started out by taking a very expressionistic and emotional view of art.”
The tone of his early work is full of tension and heightened emotions. The simple and limited palette intensifies the suspense and restlessness, forcing the viewer to focus on the abstracted faces and think about what he is showing us. Tension, anger, and anxiety are manifested in the quick and sudden brushstrokes; the brusque and hasty lines seem to express emotional release.
All the Outsider artists in Gramercy 32 Fine Arts’ collection possess the compelling desire to express the intensity of their inner selves in spite of their lack of formal training; Labbauf so too chooses to convey his feelings, thoughts and ideas through painting, a medium in which his limited training has not been an obstacle in the expression of his art but rather has served to enhance it.