The Passion of Trees (Plus Book Launch)

Ali Shokri

Monday, May 14, 2018-Monday, May 21, 2018
The snow no longer cloaks our mountains in white. Our rivers have emaciated. Our wells are getting deeper and deeper, and our valleys are short of breath. The red deer do not give birth and our leopards jump to their death from the rocks of the Mount Kiamaki. 
Every day the papers speak of the escalation of the greenhouse gases, the depletion of the ozone layer, and the El Nino phenomenon, while the nighttime TV is filled with news of global warming, drought, and climate change. 
I do not exactly understand these issues, but every year I witness the incineration of vast expanses of the Arasbaran Forests, a unique biodiversity which is steadily dwindling. 
Owing to inordinate dam and road construction, the proliferation of factories and mines, and many other reasons, wild life in these forests is so devastated that even lumber smugglers would feel dejected at the sight. I cannot imagine the depth of his sorrow if father were alive and could see how the walnut trees have dried out and the apricots do not blossom anymore. 

A tree is seen as being beautiful when it is adorned with green leaves and it is said:

"The green leaves of trees, in the eyes of the perceptive ones/

Each leaf is a tome, showing wisdom of the Creator!"

[a variation from a couplet attributed to Sa'di (ghazal no. 296)]

However, a tree devoid of leaves, with bare branches, does not often draw anybody's attention and does not usually inspire anyone to praise its beauty. Ali Shokri is not like that; he sees these very same bare trees beautiful and creates beauty from them, and is successful in his creations!

In this collection, he invites and takes us to the feast of the beauties and shows us a beautiful world seen through his eyes. A beauty that which if we were to be left alone, we might not have ever observed it. He, with the technical capabilities at his disposal that photography has provided him with, sometimes brightens the dark and darkens the light. Sometimes he widens our point of view and sometimes tightens them, and by doing so presents a different world for our eyes [and minds] to see. He transports us to places where our presence there, in those moments, could not have been possible, as he might have wished them to be.

In a warm room, sitting in a soft seat, he makes it possible for us to watch a snow-and-ice-covered scene that is filled with an extraordinary beauty! Using certain techniques, he separates two adjacent trees with similar heights, from one another; or, gives the one, or the other tree, the necessary smallness or grandness for our access! A tight space is made into being wide and vast, and squeezes a wide-open space to represent a special view.

Sometimes he takes and makes the ground more expansive than it is, and the sky less expansive than it is, and places them in front of our eyes, not the way we would have seen it with our own eyes. Sometimes by darkening the sky to the point of being pitch black, and sometimes by brightening the leaves of trees to the point of being white, he creates a different world, an unreal one. Sometimes he creates a beautiful composition by mixing shadows of a tree upon the snow with other branches of that tree. He shows trees with no shadows in one place, utilizing the cloudy weather, and in another place, utilizing the bright sunlight below the horizon, he captures harmonious, eye-catching and orderly elongated shadows.

Just as successfully as Ali has demonstrated his expertise in capturing “groups of trees together,” he has also created masterful and beautiful images of "lone trees"

In each and every one of his works, his following of the "WHEN, WHERE, HOW" principle, is clearly evident. If this were not the case, works as beautiful as these could not have been created. None of his images were taken as careless shots, and none has been made without careful and long deliberations. A combination of his strong vision along with exacting and correct judgments have made it possible for him to take firm and well-grounded steps in his work. He does not go astray, and takes no steps without first evaluating the path. He is only at the start of his trip and is only thirty years old. He has chosen his path well.

I am presuming that he likes solitude; [he seems to like] being alone and creating, looking and seeing! Awaiting the arrival of the desired moment!

With wishes for continued success,

Hadi Shafaieh

Emeritus Professor of Photography,

University of Tehran; and,

Art University; and,

University of Technology

(Tehran, Iran)


Founder of Academic Teaching and Learning of Photography in Iran