artist spotlight
Saman Kalantari

share your creative practice:
in conversation with Saman Kalantari

What does it mean to you to join the North Lands Creative network and be part of building a community for glass?


My first experience with North Lands Creative goes back to 2010 when I was supposed to go there to participate in a group residency and unfortunately because of visa problems (I still didn’t hold Italian citizenship at that time) I had to cancel it few days before traveling to Scotland. 

From that moment I have been following news from North Lands and has always been on my top list and I dreamed to be there either for teaching or residency but never happened so far.


Tell us about your work. What influences translate into your art practice?


My work is directly connected to my emotions. It comes from very deep inside and I am a very attentive observer of my surroundings.


Has this changed the way you approach your work?


A very important aspect of my artistic research focuses on what different materials such as, paper, glass, plastic, etc. have in common or in contrast and how they react when they are back to their origin. I intend to create a dialogue between traditional crafts fine arts, handmade and found objects and then recompose them in some form of contemporary installation in which similarities, differences, and diversities stay together and coexist well as a metaphor for the society.


What initially captured your imagination about glass?


My country of origin has a very rich tradition of glass. Glassworks from ancient Persia 700-500 BC up to the Islamic period are part of every important museum collection around the world. As a child, I used to visit a small town near my city with my parents in which there were working many local glass blowers. Many years later in Italy, I started studying glass in 2005 just by accident after visiting accidentally a glass exhibition in Bolzano which became a turning point for me.


What’s the significance of the handmade to you?


I have a background as a ceramic artist. Working with clay one has very direct contact with the material. You touch it and you insert your fingers in it. Our evolution as human species started when millions of years ago our ancestors started to use their hands and to make tools and things. If you look at an ancient piece of pottery you still see the fingerprint of the maker on it. There are many contemporary artists that for creating their ideas need the skilful hands of other artists or craftspersons.Personally, I try to create a balance between the use of the handmade, ready-made and found objects in my works. 


What was your route to becoming an artist?


If I’m not wrong Picasso believed that every child is an artist and what is difficult is to remain an artist as we grow up. Let’s say my route started a long time ago. I always knew that my preferable style of life was artist life. The only thing that keeps changing in my route is my definition of what being an artist means to me.

What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?


I mostly make pate de Verre  and my technique is called paper-thin pate de Verre that I have developed it myself and I have been teaching in different workshops around the world. As I explained before I use it together with other mediums and materials, video mixed media, etc.


How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary glass?


My work is sometimes minimal and sometimes narrative.Some people describe them as poetic and sensational. It has both the simplicity of something made by a child and the complexity of a well-crafted object. I feel that my works are born inside me. A combination of my passion, love, and sensibilities. Each time I create a work It seems to me to have a newborn child. I feel to be both their father and mother.

If we consider the whole art system whether contemporary or not, glass and non-glass, as a galaxy in the universe my art is just a small shining star among billions.


Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?


My possess is very experimental and all about paying attention to what is at the margin of attention and what is left most cases, my research starts from what is considered garbage for others. I use lots of recycable materials and found objects and then I transform them into something new and in some cases to something with a new identity. Both as a ceramic artist and a glass artist  I have four magic sacred elements in my hands; fire, wind, dust, and water and my process is some sort of alchemy. I convert organic materials into glass objects. You have probably heard about the legend of King Midas and his golden touch. Sometimes I have the same feeling.


How are you experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic in your country? To what extent has your everyday life as an artist changed in lockdown?


Italy was among the very first countries which were heavily affected by the pandemic. We experienced different lock-downs in which we were not allowed even to go outside our apartments. It helped me a lot to appraciate things that are very important to us, we are surrounded by them we have them for free and we don’t admire them until we lose them. Our freedom, health, etc I also learned to reinvent myself and my artistic practice again and again with all those limitations. The whole situation also introduced new ways of using technologies and media to meet and have dialogues and conversations online with other artists around the world. Despite all difficulties, it helped me to move forward.

Saman Kalantari

Saman Kalantari was born in Shiraz, Iran.

Saman started working as a ceramic artist in 1992 and participated in several individual and group exhibitions.

He left his country of birth in 2004 and since then has been living in Italy.

Through working with glass, he was able to express his social experiences of life from both Iran and Europe.