Ideas related to the eternal self and human existence are explored once again by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar in his upcoming exhibition Oneness Wholeness with Jean Cocteau, taking place from 6-30 September at Villa Santo Sospir in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. The show, which features a collection of mixed media sculptures as well as a sound installation by Behnam-Bakhtiar, focuses on the shared vision of humanity between the acclaimed 20th-century artist Jean Cocteau and Behnam-Bakhtiar.
Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar surrounded by his new sculptural works at Villa Santo Sospir in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Photography by Loic Thebaud
“Oneness Wholeness with Jean Cocteau includes a series of large-scale sculptures inspired by the frequent visitors of Cocteau at Santo Sospir – Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Charlie Chaplin, Vlaslav Nijinsky, Coco Chanel and all the people who have come and gone, leaving enchanting energy that engulfs the premises of this historical monument in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat,” says the artist. “Each sculpture is painted in my signature painting style and this series of sculptures is my homage to the vibrant personalities who have passed through the legendary Villa Santo Sospir, and the traces they left behind, thus inviting current visitors to loose themselves amongst these characters and re-examine their own life paths.”
A synergy between the two artists is found in Behnam-Bakhtiar’s sound installation created after the artist discovered a 1962 video entitled Jean Cocteau speaks to the year 2000 where Cocteau shares existential observations from the dining room of villa Santo Sospir. In the film he says, “We live according to conventional norms...and it’s likely that we have misled ourselves and perhaps you are still misleading yourselves...It’s possible that what we call progress could prove to be the development of an error...I certainly hope...that you have become very humanized: that’s my hope.”
Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar outside Villa Santo Sospir with his new sculptural works. Photography by Loic Thebaud
Such a message similarly reflects the philosophy behind Behnam-Bakhtiar’s Oneness Wholeness series, which debuted at London’s Saatchi Gallery in May 2018. In this body of large-scale paintings the artist focused on the importance of being connected with the eternal self, particularly in our modern world where, the artist believes, people lose themselves more and more every day.
“There is nothing more satisfying for a human being than feeling complete, supported and loved by the universe, and to be able to transfer it to other people and living things creating better communities for a better future,” said the artist to Bazaar Art. The works at Saatchi aimed to offer peace and harmony through artistic form. In a similar vein, Behnam-Bakhtiar’s upcoming exhibition seeks to transcend time and dialogue with the existentialism inherent in Cocteau’s philosophy and oeuvre.