Christie’s is delighted to offer a charming example from Farhad Moshiri’s renowned letter series implementing intricate built up of layers of meaning, making each canvas undoubtedly distinctive. Known to have one of the most dynamic and fascinating oeuvres of any Middle Eastern artist, Farhad Moshiri’s career began with the rigour of originality and creativity that it continues with today. Founded on the principles of deeply personal expression through the dichotomy of tradition and modernity, whilst referencing his Iranian heritage, Moshiri makes it a point to be complimentary yet contradictory. Consistently bringing to light the polarity of Iran’s distinguished history with modern day vulgarity, humour and materiality, Moshiri’s powerful works are consistently fascinating and profoundly unique.
As a true pioneer of the contemporary artistic generation, the present work shows the artist’s interpretation of the traditional Abjad alphabet. Armed with the dynamism of an eclectic visual language, the artist seamlessly fuses the old with the new as he approaches this canvas with the masterful creativity for which he has become known. By spreading this script across the entirety of the canvas, Moshiri’s fascination with this becomes apparent as he mirrors their complexity on the surface of the canvas.
'Abjad was a secret language made by holy men, where a set of numbers stood for a word, not unlike binary codes. I did not know this language but I found it curiously beautiful. With total disregard for their correct usage I started writing and repeating numbers.' (Farhad Moshiri in conversation with Dr. Maryam Ekhtiar, in D. Nasser-Khadivi, F. Rahim Ismail (eds.) Farhad Moshiri, Vol. 1, Milan 2016, p. 90).
By rearranging these letters and numbers in no particular order and at different angles, the artist accentuates their geometric qualities and activates their ability to be patterned. Repeating them across the canvas Moshiri plays on the juxtaposition between light and dark to call attention to the various visual depths of the canvas. This layered complexity is further enhanced by his use of colour. With the combination of rich yellows, shades of pink and the stark contrast of black, these motifs create a celebration on the canvas. By manipulating the result of the pigment by folding and crushing the canvas in order to create flakes and cracks across the painter surface, Moshiri completely alters the traditionally flat outcome of paint on the canvas.
Creating what becomes nothing short of a visual circus, the artist uses these various techniques to enhance the authority which he possesses over his painting. Altering what would be the two-dimensionality of these shapes by infusing them with this cracking technique, the artist has the ability to generate not only a sense of depth but also a great sense of interest in the work’s surface texture. As a testament to his incredible talent, these spontaneous interruptions to the paint on the canvas provides the viewer with just enough complication to keep them ever-intrigued.