Christie's is proud to offer in the present sale an exceptional masterpiece by the Iranian artist Mansour Qandriz. Born in 1935, Qandriz stands at the forefront of Modern Iranian art and is celebrated as one of the most important and highly sought after artists of his time. As the artist died prematurely in a car accident in 1965, he only made a small number of paintings during his lifetime and most of the works from his Saqqakhaneh period are safely kept in private hands and very rarely appear at auction.
Following an academic training in art, Qandriz creates his signature style fusing various inspirations from Chinese paintings to French Impressionism and Islamic arts. In the early 1960s, he joined a group of influential Iranian artists who moved away from pure Modernism that prevailed in the previous decade in an attempt to combine their traditional heritage with Modernity. The neo-traditionalist approach of these artists and intellectuals reflected their quest for a national artistic identity, within the realm of a disrupted social and political environment. When in 1962, the art critic and journalist Karim Emami evoked the term Saqqakhaneh as a reference to the votive fountains found in Tehran's urban environment, he alluded to the works of artists such as Parviz Tanavoli, known as the father and pioneer of the movement, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, Faramarz Pilaram and Mansour Qandriz. These artists, each in their own way and with their distinctive styles, incorporated Islamic and spiritual motifs as well as references to the Persian folk culture within their abstract compositions. Inspired by the typically Persian motifs and patterns, the tribal art of the Iranian villages that they discovered on rugs and textiles and in the art of metalwork, these artists created a style that until today defines the essence of Iranian Modern art.
Mansour Qandriz stood as one of the leading figures of the Saqqakhaneh School. Through painting, Qandriz delicately and beautifully fused tradition and modernity and fought for the rise and revival of a common pictorial heritage and a strong Persian identity through the arts. Inspired by the geometric patterns that were traditionally used in the Persian handicrafts, he recreated them on the surface of his canvases, combined them in shapes that recalled human bodies and incorporated symbols such as birds, swords, the sun and fish in an attempt to bring to life the heritage that was somewhat forgotten and rejected in his contemporary society.
The present work is an enchanting example from his highly sought after Saqqakhaneh paintings. One sees shapes that recall the ornamental keys and locks that were famously attached to the votive fountains as a gesture for prayer. The subtle colours impair a soothing effect to the overall composition, while the intricate details allude to the Islamic architecture and traditional arts that profoundly inspired Qandriz through his life and art. Somehow depicting a semi-human figure, Qandriz beautifully recreates the personification of his Persian heritage. As one of his most captivating compositions, the present work is undeniably one of the artist's most important masterpieces.