The Socratic method in shape and color

Dr. Grant Leneaux

CDr. Christoph Kivelitz

The Latin poet Horace famously stated that the purpose of poetry is to produce “delectare et prodesse”, to delight and enlighten the reader or listener. Yari Ostovany’s work can be seen as a pictorial translation of that dictum. While his paintings are instantaneously and effortlessly compelling, they do not yield themselves fully at first view. Their “meaning” is not accessible on the surface. They make their demands on the viewer. Demands of a philosophical as well as aesthetic order. Both intellectual and emotional demands of a high order.

Yari Ostovany is truly an international persona. He was born in Tehran and now lives and creates in a terrain encompassing his Persian roots and his Western present. He is conversant in Persian, English, and German and he paints in an international language with a vocabulary deriving from as far back as ancient Persia up to Picasso and beyond. Yari’s paintings are informed by a structural logic internal to the given developing work, not imposed from without or preconceived. His creative process might well be called the Socratic method in shape and color. Yari is thus both the inseminator and midwife of his creative impulses.

Besides his obvious attachment to visual art, Yari has a profound passion for music. This passion is palpable in his work. His paintings are alive with musicality. At a certain level, the viewer must not only look at his paintings but listen to them as well; they are of a choral and choreographic nature.

The paintings of Yari Ostovany present and represent an existential effort of great personal intensity. They are a challenge to the viewer as they were to the painter. Yet if the viewer is willing to enter into an open and honest dialogue with his work, it will divulge, as Yari puts it himself, “imprints left on the soul”.

Some of Ostovany’s paintings were in gestation for over 10 years before the artist gave them the final imprimatur, the finishing touch. But an authentic painting is never really finished as long as a solitary and attentive viewer extracts delight and enlightenment from it.

Reno, 2010.


Dr. Grant Leneaux has taught German, Classical Greek, Latin, French, Western Traditions, as well as courses on Greek and Shakespearian tragedy and on the hero in Western literature for 25 years. He is currently working on a book-length study on the heroic Agon in Homer.


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