Shoja Azari, filmmaker, and Shahram Karimi, painter, first collaborated in 2006. Their collaboration exploits the tension between the two media, emphasizing how one medium can, at times, overpower the other, how the two media can coexist in harmony, or even how incorporating a second medium can either bring to life a static image or enhance the visual quality of film. One of their coauthored works, their “Silence” series, uses abstract films of natural environments over hyperrealistic paintings depicting the same scenes.
Azari and Karimi worked together on installations outside their co-authored works, including Blazing Grace, which addresses the Gulf War and alludes to hell and purgatory. In it, Azari reframes scenes from Werner Herzog’s Lessons of Darkness and Karimi showcases hyperrealistic, cinematic paintings of vibrant fires, soldiers, and military tanks. Azari’s film career began in Shiraz, Iran, where he experimented with short films as a teenager, and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution involved himself in underground culture – literature, theater, and politics. After moving to New York in 1983, he received a Master’s degree in Psychology from New York University.