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Studio visit: Abolghassem Saidi

From his studio among the rooftops of Paris the 90-year-old Iranian-born artist muses on the need to create and to be loved for one’s work, and on his personal struggle to capture ‘the music of nature’ in painting

‘When I was a child, we didn’t have any paper because we were too poor,’ recalls artist Abolghassem Saidi. ‘I would draw everywhere — on the walls, the doors and on my schoolbooks.’ 

Born in Iran in 1926, Saidi moved to Paris in 1950, enrolling at the city’s École des Beaux Arts a year later. ‘That’s when my life as a painter began,’ he explains. Now 90, the artist has made Paris his home, working from a studio with views across the city’s grey rooftops.

In this video, Saidi explains the philosophy behind his practice. ‘What I look for in painting, above all else, is harmony and composition. I believe my paintings are a representation of the music I would make,’ he says. It is a fitting statement from an artist who recalls annoying his parents with constant singing when he was a boy.

It is an Iranian saying, however, that summarises the essence of Saidi's paintings. ‘The artist at night, goes to sleep with doubts, and wakes up with hope,’ he says. 'At its heart, painting is hope.'