• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7802

    International Modern and Contemporary Art

    29 April 2009, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 37

    Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (Iranian, b. 1937)

    Wav + Wav + VE

    Price Realised  

    Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (Iranian, b. 1937)
    Wav + Wav + VE
    signed and dated 'Zenderoudi 70' (lower left); signed, dated and titled 'ZENDEROUDI 1970 "Wav + Wav + VE"' and dated in Farsi (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    77 1/8 x 37½in. (196 x 95.5cm.)
    Painted in 1970


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    Drawing on centuries of vibrant and rich cultural traditions Zenderoudi, along with the other well known artists including Faramarz Pilaram and Parviz Tanavoli, embraced a neo-traditionalist style, known as Saqqa-khaneh, which would launch him into the international arena. In 1970, he was voted by Connaissance des Arts as one of ten most famous living artists along with the likes of Frank Stella and Andy Warhol. Saqqa-khaneh took its name from a type of architectural structure that punctuates the Iranian landscape, housing public drinking fountains, decorated with traditional folk-art motifs. Much like today's modern day billboards, with walls covered with a random confluence of popular posters and folk imagery, these structures also served a functional purpose offering shelter and protection from the sweltering rays of the sun, a place of generosity and hospitality for all. It was during the 1950s that the artist was first affected by these structures. Zenderoudi was moved by the bright colours covering the walls and the spontaneous and random meaning resulting from the haphazard assembly imagery that still somehow maintained its mass appeal.

    In 1960, Zenderoudi left Tehran for Paris; however his memories of his homeland remained poignant and would go on to form the foundation from which he continues to draw his inspiration today. Embracing what is perhaps the most important and well established art form in Iran and the Islamic world, Zenderoudi employs calligraphy to construct vibrant, multi-layered and complex compositions. Unlike traditional craftsmen, he takes the Farsi word and the letter, deconstructs and strips the words down to repetitive shapes and structures emphasizing form over meaning. In the later 1960s his focus turned towards the Persian letterform as the sole motif on his canvases. The other iconography from his Saqqa-khaneh phase fell away -some to be later revisited- and the compositions consisted solely of indecipherable Persian words, superimposed on each other or in variety of scales, deliberately distorted and subverting the rules of callligraphy.
    Around the turn of the 1970s Zenderoudi's paintings entered a new phase, and compositions focused on single letters or groups of letters repeated endlessly to create rythmic patterns against a white field. The resulting works are markedly restrained compared to what had come earlier. Starkly beautiful, they form the the most minimal phase of Zenderoudi's oeuvre, of which the present work is an outstanding example.

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