For Partou, painting was neither a formal language nor an ironic device, but an instinctual vehicle for self-exploration. She sought to reveal herself to herself, transmitting through the raw matter of coloured pigment the immediacy of her feelings. These were embodied in her visible appearance, which she represented both as a temporal and spiritual container. Where the world impinged on the first, it produced richly worked images that alternated between delight and reverie, childish surprise and quiet withdrawal. But as this bodily container began to break down, so the second kind assumed a new primacy in her work. Her figures, now more outwardly fragile, had often possessed a degree of inner stillness, but now they radiated a kind of spectral otherness.
When I saw her last show (exactly a year ago), I was struck particularly by ‘Green Breath’ in which an elemental figure appears before a landscape, a transient presence animated by a stream of green paint that permeates the membrane between body and earth, and dissolves the boundary between one world and another. The figure seemed, I told her at the time, ‘to suggest both the winged presence of an avatar, and the sloughing off of a former life’. But this was, as it could only be, my own projection, and her response told me less about the need for external meaning as the need to paint (out of internal necessity): The new paintings are a route through which I can begin to speak of the interior voices. Paint and colour, drawn form and the two dimensionality of the canvas seem a strange locus from which to 'speak' of things which in fact even the apparent accessibility of words can fail to deliver.... but that is what I am doing, and so it goes on... indeed as all painters do!
The trace of that voice persists, here and elsewhere, even if the speaker has now fallen silent.
Partou Zia. Born Tehran 1958; died Cornwall 2008.