Washington Post review for the "Tea & Saffron and Spice" Series show at Artist's Proof Gallery in June 2017
Even if none of Saya Behnam's paintings included Farsi script, which a few do, the influence of Persian illuminated manuscripts would be clear just from the colors. The Tehran-born, Leesburg-based artist's elegant pictures are abstract rather than representational, but they're clearly linked to tradition. Her Artist's Proof show, "Saffron & Tea," glistens with flower and mineral pigments used for centuries in one-of-a-kind illustrated books.
In addition to the titular substances, the artist employs henna, coffee, and hibiscus, supplemented by gold. Dabs of the latter dance across a series of florals on white backdrops, while other compositions include 3-D spirals of gold leaf or white and yellow paint. The juxtaposition of loosely and tightly painted forms complements the contrast between watery, overlapping tints and rock-solid hues.
The results are usually delicate, which befits techniques such as the way Behnam blows saffron grains across the surface, letting them fall where they may. As the artist writes, this process yields a permanent "testament" to a fleeting gesture.
Saya Behnam: Saffron & Tea On view through June 25 at Artist's Proof, 1533 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-803-2782. aproof.net.
View the link