Leading local artist known for his “powerful and poetic” works


The art world has been shocked and saddened by the sudden death of highly respected South Australian artist Hossein Valamanesh, who was due to present his latest work at the upcoming Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art.

Paul Greenaway’s GAGPROJECTS, which represents both Hossein and his artist wife Angela, released a statement this morning saying he had died after suffering a massive heart attack over the weekend.

Born in Iran in 1949, Hossein graduated from the School of Fine Art in Tehran in 1970 before emigrating to Australia in 1973 and completing further studies at the South Australian School of Art, where he met Port Pirie-born Angela.

According to GAGPROJECTS (formerly known as Greenaway Art Gallery), over the past 49 years, Hossein has established himself as one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, “with a distinguished career that has taken him around the world”.

“Inspired by the writings of the Persian poet Rumi and his passion for a reduced, haiku-like treatment of material and form, Hossein is known for his artworks that are both powerful and poetic.”

Hossein’s practice spanned a range of media, including installation, sculpture, and video, with his work often exploring “notions of an essential connection to place, the nature of being, and the transience of existence.”

He has presented in numerous exhibitions in Australia and overseas and currently has a major solo exhibition, Puisque tout passe (This will also happen), Exhibition at the Institut des Cultures d’Islam (ICI) in Paris. Hossein’s work is also held in many institutions including the Art Gallery of South Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia.

Hossein has often created artworks in collaboration with Angela and her son Nassiem. The couple have a studio in the center of their Adelaide home and have worked together on commissions including public art 14 pieces (2005), in front of the South Australian Museum; Ginkgo Gates (2011), at the west entrance of the Adelaide Botanic Garden, and Memorial to the Irish Famine (1999), a bronze sculpture in Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney.

Angela and Hossein Valamanesh 14 pieces, 2005, in front of the SA Museum. Photo: Tony Lewis

said Art Gallery of South Australia director Rhana Devenport In the test that the gallery had the honor of hosting many works by Hossein, whom it described as an internationally important artist.

“Hossein’s death shocks and saddens all of us at AGSA – it has been a great privilege to work with him and witness the extraordinary impact he has had nationally and internationally,” Devenport said, adding that his turning tree was calling memory of rain is one of the most popular works in the gallery.

“Despite Hossein’s tragic death, his legacy will continue to inspire, amaze and resonate with our visitors here at AGSA every day.”

Both Hossein and Angela Valamanesh are among the 25 leading Australian contemporary artists selected to exhibit at the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art 2022: Free State, curated by Sebastian Goldspink and on view at the Art Gallery of South Australia from 4 March. They have collaborated on new works that explore the concept of home.

When announcing the Free State Artist line-up Late last year, Goldspink called the couple and fellow artists Tracey Moffatt and Julie Rrap trailblazers: “When these artists came along, they were outsiders in a very different kind of art world. They were forward-thinking and ahead of their time.”

GAGPROJECTS points this out in its declaration esgh is the Farsi word for “love,” adding, “Hossein infused this pure concept into all of his art and indeed into every aspect of his life.”

It also includes the following excerpt from a 2005 artist statement: “Most artworks carry within themselves the germ of an idea, and the opportunity to exhibit them can allow that germ to grow in the viewer’s mind with different interpretations. My original idea is just the beginning and I follow the development of the work with interest. Only when we look at the works do they realize their potential.”

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