Alaleh Ostad’s intricate oil paintings build larger patterns from an inventive macrocosm of small details. Alaleh characterizes her work as "abstract landscapes," as a way to "paint feelings and not thinking." Like a person's inner thoughts and sensations, her paintings are immensely complex, layered structures. She drapes several canvas-wide coats of different colors across one another. Some feature variations on one hue or one tone, wile others have highly contrasting layers peeking through, one over the next over the next. In this way, the compositions convey the passage of time, the process of digging and unearthing. Alaleh uses every color in the palette at some point, but most often she works in earth tones that evoke the sensation of excavation.
Alaleh further complicates these layers by drawing highly elaborate line patterns all the way through. Sometimes she scrapes through a layer to reveal the colors underneath. At other times, she drags thick, chunky swirls of paint from one are of the canvas to another. In others still, she simple paints her lines on top of the smooth layers to introduce yet another dimension. Her marks swing between precision and the joy of a skilled hand let loose to create squiggles and spirals at will. The patterns cover the canvases with the same blanket consistency as the color washes, yet they move the composition forward. Viewed at close range, her lines cast a hypnotic, rhythmic spell. When pulled back, the viewer might perceive waves of light and shadow pitching and curving throughout the composition.
Alaleh's distinctive style melds her experience in sculpture and calligraphy with painting. She brings her understanding of positive and negative space to the way she now scratches textures into paint to transcend the flat visual plane. She takes her highly controlled, gestural lines from Iranian calligraphy. Although they are wholly abstracted, her pieces nonetheless have a foreground, middle ground, and background. They have a unique direction and energy; their narrative is distinctive, drawing together an ancient tradition of Persian calligraphy with a Western history of abstraction.
Alaleh Ostad lives with her family in New York.