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Return to: Ahmad Nadalian

Artist Statement

The River Still Has Fish

The story began when a painter returned to his homeland after years of living abroad, having finished his studies and received a doctorate degree, and was in search of his lost paradise.

Upon his return to the land of his forefathers, he found that his paradise no longer existed. The wellspring was polluted and the river no longer had fish. He wanted to build his own paradise. He created hundreds of fish on the stones of the river. He was happy that his early memories existed, if only as fossilized remnants. He liked to believe that these fish are alive, and were swimming against the tides. He is determined as ever to build his paradise. In spring, summer and most holidays he lives in his garden home in Poloor (a village 65 K.M. from Tehran- North of Iran) and enjoys collecting stones, which he considers to be ready made sculptures. He feels a great bond with nature, and enjoys living outdoors.

He also traveled to many countries and produced environmental works. These are carved rocks that have been abandoned at the site where they were created. The designs on the rocks are human figures, hands, feet, birds, goats, crabs, snakes and fish. Symbols of the Zodiac, the sun and the moon surround these designs, reminding the viewer that the images are not merely representations of nature, but symbolic concepts.

He abandons small carved stones on the riverbank. He leaves his contact numbers and website address ( on these stones, yet has no inclination to disclose their exact whereabouts. What he intends is for the spectator searching for the artwork to perhaps discover something more valuable than his stones in nature. He then considers himself a partner in the spectator's findings.

Most of the carvings are fish, scattered across a distance kilometers long. In his childhood, the rivers of his village, Poloor were filled with fish. With the gradual polluting of the waters the fish disappeared. Through his carvings, he wishes to tell us that the river still has fish, though only images remain. The fish is a symbol of life and fertility. Some of the fish are immersed in water, but a greater number are upon the stones that lie in the middle of the river, their bodies only partly under water. The rush of water constantly soaks them, while the bubbling of the river provides a suitable background for viewing the artwork. In spring, the fish are often completely submerged in water, while in summer and autumn they are often entirely dry. This effect is perhaps symbolic of global warming, drought and threats to survival. Yet to him, the fish symbolizes the human souló thirsty to experience life.

© 2010