Le musée des cauchemars


Sam Shahsahabi


March 14th to April 4th 2009


residency from March 3 to 12, 2009
exhibition from March 14 to April 4, 2009



Le musée des cauchemars

sculptural and mechanical installations, paintings and drawings

According to Sam Shahsahabi, you don’t have to be dreaming to have a nightmare. You just have to look at what’s happening around you.

The environment has always figured eminently in the artist’s work but his reflection on nightmares began with his series of works entitled “Being There”, a series of paintings and drawings through which the artist questions and reveals his personal reality, especially in its relationship with the reality of others. Macabre scenes involving demons, semi-human ands emi-animal forms, spring forth from these works in the manner of the grand masters. From this series also emerged the artist’s first sculptural and mechanical installations, ghostly versions of his paintings and drawings which, at that point in time, completed his exploration.

In his exhibition entitled “The Museum of Nightmares”, the artist’s approach is much more personal. The source from which his latest works spring is the source from which nightmares emerge : instincts and the unconscious. Consequently, the paintings are devoid of realism which is superseded by symbolic imagery in overlapping layers. The artist invents machines in an attempt to capture what is hiding behind the works and he interlays everyday objects of all sorts which he displays like precious artefacts.

For example, there are installations of mechanical objects that document the artist’s nightmares, like a pivoting chandelier of crayons that endlessly displays motion on the gallery floor or a box proportioned like a casket that documents and records, from the inside, the comings and goings of the gallery’s visitors. There are also displays of objects undergoing mutation, like a series of domestic animals made with children’s toys or an exhibit of hybrid tomatoes that can never go rotten.

However, in his museum of nightmares, the artist has provided visitors with an exit… a ray of hope. In his most recent painting, a bird of perfect proportions spreads out inside a ring, like da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. All sorts of animals emerge from or enter into the bird’s chest,in a ferocious movement that surely seems to represent the arrival of a new era and the beginning of a new series of works.


Sam Shahsahabi was born in Iran, where he lived until 1996. He obtained his B.A. in Visual Arts at the Azad University in Teheran, then his Master’s degree at York University in Toronto. His works have been exhibited in Iran, Turkey, Germany, Japan and Canada. He is living and working in Sudbury since 2006.

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