Second Generation ArtistArtist Darius Yektai Follows In His Father’s Footsteps
Bridgehampton artist Darius Yektai hails from a family of artists. In fact, an exhibition of his family’s works was held at Guild Hall last Fall.
His father, Manoucher, was born in Tehran in 1921, moving to Paris in the ‘40s where he studied with the Cubists. He emigrated to the States in ’47, along with so many other artists of his generation. His first shows, at the Stable Gallery, were with such other celebrated painters as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell. He was also represented by legendary art dealer Grace Borgenicht.
Darius’ brother, Nico, uses wood as his medium. A furniture maker, his pieces are very sculptural. “He’s not a designer,” says Darius. “He’s a sculptor and his subject happens to be a chair or table or bench. You have to walk around his pieces to understand them.”
While Nico’s oeuvre bears some resemblance to his father’s large paint strokes, Darius is influenced by both his father and brother in that he moves between painting and sculpture. Born in Southampton in 1973, he spent his childhood immersed in art yet in his first foray to college he chose to pursue chemistry and physics.
It wasn’t long before he realized he was more interested in art and became a student of art history at the American University in Paris. What it had going for it was that not only was it an accredited institution (to please his parents), the curriculum was taught in English. He also stalked the Parisian galleries where: “I could learn the way the great artists built up a surface. With Rubens you can see what brush strokes went on top, with Cezanne you can see drawings underneath.”
Lately he’s been working a lot with resin paintings. He might find an old oil painting of his and pour on a transparent yet thick – up to half an inch – layer of resin. He then paints again on top of the glossy material.
He’s also making gigantic self-portraits so large they barely fit in the studio. What distinguishes them is their darkness. (Though out of doors they are very colorful as the oils absorb light.) Art critic and poet Robert Long described them thus: “It was like looking at Rembrandt with the lights turned off.” Darius says that these works are very difficult to make and take a long time. He exorcises “a lot of dark emotion” with them. “Life is not all color and flowers.”
Yet he paints flowers too. These he works on when he’s finished another work and has paint left over on the palette or when he’s “not thinking.” He describes them as a balance between abstraction and representation. “It’s a traditional subject that is present all throughout history that I use in a new way.”
For his mostly figurative sculptures, which he says are “somewhere between my brother’s and father’s work,” he wraps canvas around wooden forms “like a painting in a wood frame that has been stretched with canvas.” Many of his wood pieces are remnants handed down by Nico. They can take many years to build, not as easy as working on a stretched canvas.
Darius is very “happy’ with his life on the South Fork. “Every day I wake up early, mediate, go to the ocean, surf, work in the studio, visit a farm stand – everything is either a meditation or walking meditation.”
He works frequently with Julie Keys whose gallery, Keys Fine Art, is in East Hampton.