Photos on Flickr

Press Resources

Media Contact: Margaret Cox,





Now on View

2014 Pittsburgh Biennial
Thread painting, Hadi Tabatabai, 2016
2014 Pittsburgh Biennial
Thread painting (detail), Hadi Tabatabai, 2016
2014 Pittsburgh Biennial
Thread painting, Hadi Tabatabai, 2015-6
2014 Pittsburgh Biennial
Thread painting, Hadi Tabatabai, 2014-7
2014 Pittsburgh Biennial
The artist in the process of painting.




Hadi Tabatabai: Transitional Spaces

Co-presented by wats:ON? Festival
Curated by Spike Wolff
Sept. 23 - Nov. 12, 2017

Sept. 22, 6-8pm: Reception
Facebook event

Related Programming
wats:ON? Festival 2017 SHIFT
Nov. 2 - Dec., 2017
Nov. 2, 5pm: Hadi Tabatabai's Installation Opening + Festival Reception, CMU College of Fine Arts, Great Hall
6pm: Hadi Tabatabai's Artist Talk, College of Fine Arts Kresge Theatre

About the exhibition

Through an elegant combination of drawing, painting and sculpture, Hadi Tabatabai's work describes a place that is as much an idea as a physical location. These compositions embody liminality: that is, they create a constant experience of sensations that exist at the limen, or edge, of perception. To bring about this state, Tabatabai has removed all possible distractions. Narrative and figuration, even figure and ground, have been excised from these delicate combinations of squares, rectangles and floating lines.

Tabatabai uses the physical nature of the materials to create subtle shifts within the surface plane.  The lines are delineated by slightly raised or lowered edges of materials to create works that straddle the realm of the pictorial and the sculptural.  Through the use of light and shadow, depth of field, and other optical obfuscations, the positive and negative space in the paintings becomes indeterminate.  His work evokes the relationship between what is imagined on the surface and what is actually rendered—in a sense questioning what is being “looked at” or “seen.”

For the past twenty years Tabatabai has devoted his attention to a very tiny area—an area that comprises the physicality of a line and functions as the transitional space between two entities. He views the ‘line’ as empty space without an agenda or allegiance; it is neither here nor there. Tabatabai believes that by paying attention to this tiny, subtle, yet detailed space, one is forced to turn away from the outside world and focus inward on one’s own interior space.

As art historian, Peter Lodermeyer, described the work in a catalogue essay, “You have to look closely, as close as possible, then steadily until you can see the seeing itself. Watch yourself as you look in order to perceive.”

About the artist

Hadi Tabatabai was born in Mashhad, Iran, in 1964. He immigrated to the United States in 1977 with his family, settling in California. Tabatabai received a BS in industrial technology from California State University Fresno in 1985 and a BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1995.

Tabatabai's work has been shown in London, Paris, Turin, Frankfurt, Bonn, Bogotá, and widely in the United States. He has had solo exhibitions at Danese/Corey and Anthony Grant Galleries in New York, Brian Gross Fine Art and Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco, Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna Beach, and Inde/Jacobs in Marfa, Texas.

His works are included in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Berkeley Art Museum, (Berkeley, California), Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington, Delaware), the Contemporary Museum (Honolulu, Hawaii), Colby College Museum of Art (Waterville, Maine), the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas (Austin), Davis Museum at Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA), Bowdoin College Museum of Art (Brunswick, ME), The Lannan Foundation, The Progressive Corporation Art Collection, the Werner H. Kramarsky Collection, Lloyd Cotsen collection, Gerald E. Buck Collection, the Estate of Agnes Martin and Luc Tuymans.