Viewer Voices: Heech

Heech, by Parviz Tanavoli, was my absolute favorite piece displayed in the Beauty & Belief exhibition, but when I think about it, I find myself in internal conflict—a blank even. The sculpture brings three-dimensional life to the Persian word heech that literally means “nothing.” Even now as I attempt to word my feelings about the piece I find myself wondering: how can I possibly write something about “nothing”?

And yet nothingness is central to what artists do. Artists create beautiful pieces out of nothing and visual substance to fill empty space. Heech reflects this paradox between substance and nothingness. While the word “nothing” indicates the absence of form, meaning or value, Heech proves to be quite the opposite. A solid bronze sculpture with a defined, flowing form, the piece carries weight, character, and a glow about it.

In this light, “nothing” comes to signify the relationship between existence and the vision of the creator. Heech s creator Parviz Tanavoli seemed to have this meaning in mind when he said, “God created the universe out of nothing, so if the universe is made of nothing then nothingness is everywhere, in every part of the universe, in all creatures.”

Every single thing, person, and situation that seems inconsequential can actually carry great weight in the grand scheme of it all. Something can always come out of the perceived nothings in life.

In the nothingness that is paired with our mortality, I believe we were created and organized by the will and hand of God. We have substance, we have form, and to Him, we have meaning, value, and worth. We are His creations. We are made to reflect His goodness and glory here on Earth. We, like the Heech, are walking paradoxes with unique weight, character, and glow. In His light, we nothings take on new meaning.

When I initially saw Heech, the sculpture seemed to carry no great meaning, but being nothing to me, Heech could become anything in my eyes. As I looked upon it more, Heech began to take on a curious shape: that of a person. The same way I see a person in Heech, God sees something in nothing. He sees something in me.

— Melissa Gutiérrez, student assistant, BYU Museum of Art.

What images or sculptures at the BYU Museum of Art have affected you and how? Send your 300 -500 word responses to, and you could be published on the MOA blog.


Image: Heech (Nothing), 1972, Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937-), bronze sculpture on wood base, 56.5 x 30.5 x 20.3 cm, Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection, Gift of Abby Weed Grey, 1975.