By Deidre S. Greben
Mally Khorasantchi’s large pulsating canvases conflate nature-based forms with abstract thoughts. Leafy tendrils poke through honeycomb-like nettings, dissolve into chalky mists, and are swept into currents of intense and variegated color.
The thrust of transformation pervades--in the delicate stems floating gracefully across the gold expanse of Zauberwald V, in the fiery maelstrom brewing in the lower half of Death of the Bumblebee VII, in the floral imagery that at once emerges from and dissolves into the bright aquamarine depths of Oceana.
Khoransantchi’s fascination with the continuum of change grows, in part, out of her midlife relocation from Dusseldorf, Germany, to southwest Florida. Away from the autobahn, she found in the lush vegetative world surrounding her a force of personal expression. Images such as the flatly rendered and boldly delineated “Sea Grape” paintings are not simply decorative evocations of plantlife but symbols with their own subtext. In other works, the hexagon, a shape extracted from threatened indigenous beehives and from the writings of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, becomes a leitmotif for connectedness, restoration, and continuance. The gnarled trunks of the tropical mangrove trees featured here in Khorasantchi’s “Oasis” paintings shield all manner of life in their limp and blossoming fronds, representing a safe and regenerating haven. Even the burst of stylized, psychedelic flora and fauna in Fantasia is a nod to her new environment—Florida’s local theme parks.
Trained in china painting as a young girl, Khorasantchi’s predilection for floral subjects was apparent early on. But it was not until she studied with New York painter Graham Nickson that they developed into more than sweet, pleasing visions. She began to invest the graceful leaves and lush colors to which she was drawn with newfound intensity, transforming them into receptacles for her emotions and beliefs. In Zauberwald IV (Magic Forest) Khorasantchi reflects on the mangled, mysterious roots of the mangrove jungle and her own roots after a trip back to Germany. Smooth tree trunks and graceful multicolored shoots emerge from an ethereal haze, suggesting a mystical conversion. In Genesis V , Khorasantchi forgoes recognizable imagery completely for pure expressionistic abstraction.
To be sure, Khorasantchi’s bold, keyed-up depictions bring to mind the mystical landscapes of Charles Burchfield, who similarly worked from familiar surroundings and imbued his imagery with deep personal symbolism, probing the mysteries of nature in an attempt to reveal his inner thoughts and moods. While the calligraphic strokes and transcendental light infusing such works as Plantation relate to the early-20th-century master’s aesthetic, Khorasantchi’s compositions, though unsettled in spots, bare no ominous cast. The turbulence, the swarm of jagged lines and fiery hues in the “Death of the Bumblebee” and “Genesis” canvases, does not tell of internal brooding and fears, but are rather homages to nature’s order. They are a celebration of the birds, bees, fish and flowers inhabiting an everchanging and enchanting landscape.