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Born in 1960s Iran, Ali Dadgar immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1970s. He went on to receive his BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, in 1989 followed by an MFA in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley in 2007. He was a lecturer in the Department of Art Practice at the University of California Berkeley between 2006 and 2009 and is the recipient of multiple awards, including the UC Berkeley Outstanding GSI Award in 2007. His work has been placed in prominent private and public collections, including the University of California Berkeley Morrison Library.

Re-Oriental Series Statement:

Ali Dadgar’s art is consistently created in dialogue with postcolonial discourse and forms an ongoing inquiry into ideologies, identity, cultural hegemonies, and systems of dominance departing from personal experiences in Iran and America. Re–Oriental, a multimedia series concerned with confronting stereotypes and customs associated with ‘the orient’, surveys complex, layered works from more than a decade of experimental art making by the Oakland based printmaker and textile artist. 

Upon first glance, Dadgar’s aesthetic is joyful and nostalgic, saturated with a bold palette of crimson red, turquoise, and mustard yellow. Yet, his compositions collapse upon closer inspection, devoid of detail or informative content. Dadgar aims to materialize the manner in which orientalist termings gloss over detail through his manipulation of the visibility and quality of his faceless subjects. He sources images that relay oriental tropes – from horseback riders to turban–clad royalty – absorbed from text book pages and the internet. By initiating each piece with a reproduction of an image, Dadgar renders his subjects pixelated and imperfect from the outset. 

Throughout his practice, Dadgar upturns traditional printing approaches in order to expose the fragility in our systems of meaning making. For Re–Oriental, the artist continues this approach by employing silk screen printing and stenciling techniques to base materials spanning velvet, wood, paper, and canvas. The deconstruction and erasure of detail from iconic imagery in order to unsettle the viewer’s acceptance of reality is central to Dadgar’s interpretation of orientalism. Dadgar understands that images operate as systems of knowledge and form a visual vocabulary that has been assigned, for various social and political agendas, to the people, places, and cultures subsumed within what has been termed ‘the orient’. Dadgar problematizes these icons, contending that they impose limitations and inaccurate framings upon their subjects.

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