Farhad Moshiri’s extensive oeuvre makes him a pioneer of the creative world in the Middle East. With boundless material production, the artist manipulates, experiments and crafts the materials which are used as the foundation of his artistic practice. Separating him from both his predecessors as well as his contemporaries, Moshiri has established a new artistic methodology by forging novel vehicles by which to express his art forms. Seeking to highlight the polarity between the absurdities of Iranian tradition and the Western world, the artist creates works of art which not only acknowledge contemporary attitudes and societies but equally pay homage to tradition and Islamic history. The present work becomes part of a series of paintings produced by the artist in which ornamentation and intricate surface textures are paramount.
In 2 Flamingos acrylic pastries are not the archetypal medium of artistic production but for Moshiri, these highly intricate and individually made objects grace the surface of this particular canvas. By crafting tiny wedding cakes, adorned in patterned icing, the artist renders the paintbrush redundant as he uses these coloured objects to compose the scene of his canvas. In hues of green, white, yellow, pink and orange, the artist strategically places each pastry in a grid-like fashion across the canvas. Each hue tailored perfectly to form every highlight and shadow of the proposed scene, the singularly coloured objects work towards the creation of a larger image, in this case, two flamingos standing side by side. Breaking down the canvas as if to almost dissect the image into various pixels, this technique draws attention to the artist’s meticulous attention to detail, with the ability to be appreciated both up close and from a distance. Filling the entirety of the picture plane, providing not only the only source of colour but also tremendous texture and complexity to the canvas, these pastries have a sense of kitsch and humour laced through them.
As a collector of kitsch imagery and an oeuvre which often takes into account the superficiality and excesses of society, the artist references the attitudes of the Iranian nouveau riche. 'There is a famous Iranian wedding anecdote that once dinner is served there’s a sudden rush for the table. You might get one chance, so you put the appetizer, main dish and dessert on the same plate, just make sure you get it all. I try to reflect that sort of attitude, visually.' (Farhad Moshiri quoted in "An Artified World: Interview with Jérôme Sans" in R. Janssen, The Third Line, Perrotin & T. Ropac (eds.), Farhad Moshiri, Brussels 2010, p. 18).
With this in mind, the sense of repetition and patterning that the viewer sees across the surface of the canvas seems to humorously mirror this idea of excess. These delicious looking, yet hollow and empty ornaments are also introduced to reflect his feelings about the superficiality of society today, both in the Iranian and Western worlds. However, the extensive ornamentation of this canvas is not accidental. The highly decorative nature of this technique is deeply rooted in the traditional Iranian aesthetic and consequently Islamic art forms. As per Islamic tradition, where figuration was entirely omitted it was compensated by a tremendous focus on embellishment. With neither social, political or religious references, ornamentation allowed for tremendous experimentation and great visual manipulation, which was primordial for Moshiri. The artist owes a great deal to happy accidents and coincidences, the architecture of these little wedding cakes also reminded him a great deal of the Romanesque nature of Iran’s old columned buildings, which were heavily embellished.