• Anarchist Milk Collective

Parham Ghalamdar: Painting and the absurd

Captions below, from left to right: 1, 2, 3

Ghalamdar’s practise and his painting is one that explores, to a nuanced degree, the philosophy of the absurd.

For those unacquainted, the absurd is born in those moments where humanity’s desire to imbue the world with meaning clashes with the world’s apparent lack of meaning.

It is fundamentally a paradox, and one that, if we are to embrace the absurd, cannot be solved through any means other than acceptance.

One gets the sense, when surveying Ghlamadar’s work that we are in the presence of a mind who keenly appreciates and understands the complexities of this paradox and what it requires of humanity.

Indeed, as one reads Ghalamdar’s statement on why he paints, one is drawn to the juxtapositions that were a feature of his childhood:

“I grew up celebrating Christmas with German songs, whilst living in an Islamofascist state… I walked in the school stepping on American and Israeli flag just before the American English class… then it was time to watch Spongebob in German on dub… with an illegally installed satellite dish.”

Within these experiences there is a continual cut and thrust from one understanding of the world to another.

As Ghalamdar invites us into his life with these examples, one is led to the conclusion: “these experiences cross each other at one point: the absurd.”

Kool Kids Klub (2019), Ink and acrylic on Thai Pearlescent paper

These comments highlight the reality of the absurd for Ghalamdar, since it is evident within them that there are many different ways to interpret the world around us and imbue it with meaning.

In this light, we are forced to accept the fact that reality is merely a matter of interpretation, and the world is, in some sense, up for grabs as to how we understand and relate to it.

This can be a jarring experience, as Ghalamdar tells us, for he grew up in a “forceful marriage of incompatible world views. I was schooled to be both pro-American and anti-American.”

Such a paradox can lead, as Ghalamdar describes it, to a “schizophrenic duality”, where one is constantly flickering between two realities, or two ways of understanding the world.

Painting for Ghalamdar became a means with which he could understand this mechanism within the mind, and lay it bare upon the table.

Such a method is likened to Sisyphus’ battle with his boulder, which he struggles to push to the top of a hill, for it to roll down every time.

This is similar to the ways in which we attempt to understand the world around us; we labour with our interpretations of the world, attempting to figure out what is happening around us.

However the world soon reminds us of its lack of meaning and the boulder of our understanding rolls down the hill once more, for us to chase after it and begin pushing again.

It is an apt metaphor for the absurd, since we continually ascend and descend in the world of our understanding, with no hope of any definite or absolute conclusion to be reached.

However, as Ghalamdar points out, “Sisyphus protests absurdity by embracing his fate… refusing to resign.”

In a similar vein, he modestly suggests that “perhaps I find painting and continuing to paint an act of co-operation with life.”

In doing so, Ghalamdar accepts the necessary flaws that are inherent within one’s own subjectivity, and realises that perhaps absolute ideals and definite conclusions will never be reached.

However, what I find inspiring in the Myth of Sisyphus and in talking to Ghalamdar about his work is his ability to not let this deter him.

Ghalamdar's work, then, is an exploration of the absurd in so much as it is a combination of incompatible ideas and forms, that confuse the mind's attempts to imbue the world with rationality and logic.

In a humble fashion that embraces the absurd, Ghalamdar’s work is a light in the darkness, encouraging others to keep going, no matter how lost they might feel, and to continue to remain curious, experiment and learn.

And in doing so, Ghalamdar reminds us that, though we might live in a meaningless universe, our attempts to create and explore can still produce works of wonder and beauty.

Homosexuality in Daylight (2019), Ink and spray paint Thai Pearlescent A2 Paper

To find out more about Parham Ghalamdar, please visit the artist’s website.


1) Camouflage (2019), Ink on Thai Pearlescent paper

2) Xmas with Khomeini (2019), Ink on Thai Pearlescent paper

3) Gay Wedding (2019) Ink on Thai Pearlescent paper

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