Farhad Moshiri (Iranian, b. 1963)
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Farhad Moshiri (Iranian, b. 1963)

Untitled (Jar)

Details
Farhad Moshiri (Iranian, b. 1963)
Untitled (Jar)
acrylic on canvas
67 5/8 x 63in. (172 x 160.5cm.)
Painted in 2001
Special notice

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Lot Essay

When Farhad Moshiri received international recognition as an artist more than ten years ago, he was producing works depicting monumental jars and bowls of all sorts of different shapes, and the present lot is an outstanding example from this series. The subject is clearly an allusion to Moshiri's native country, where ceramics have a crucial role in Iran's culture and history. Starting almost 6,000 years ago in Susa to the Sassanian vessels pre-dating Islam, and then to the technically advanced ware of 13th century Seljuk potters and 17th century Safavids, the ceramic jar has a basic shape through which Moshiri could ingenuously fuse tradition with modernity. Resembling the utilitarian stoneware jars used for preserving food, Moshiri makes his jars vessels of desire, love, life and memories, using its bulbous form as a connotation of the female figure.

The present lot is unusual not only in its very bulbous and almost circular shape but even more so with its rich variety of texture and grey tones which overlap the jar's outlines and spread over the background. As in his other Jar paintings, Moshiri creates a trompe l'oeil effect with the glazed craquelure present throughout the surface of the jar and takes this elaborate technique up to another level in this subtly painted jar, continuing to use this effect of glazed craquelure also for the background. Here, the work does not only recall the Antique trompe-l'oeil frescoes and murals such as those found in Pompeii, but also the more recent Baroque trompe-l'oeil grisailles, purposely placing itself in the ambiguous realm between painting and sculpture.

Moshiri intentionally attributes an aged and worn look to the jar, revealing his interest in archeology, the excavation process and the re-discovery of a lost identity. To achieve this lifelike and three-dimensional texture, he rolls up, folds and crushes his canvas once the various layers of paint have just about dried, causing the pigment on the surface to flake and crackle. He then consolidates his work with a transparent water-based glue to avoid any further paint loss. At the beginning, Moshiri's Jars tended to be of an earthy ochre or grey color, yet he soon made variations of the theme, using vibrant colors or more subdued tones which he associates with specific words, phrases or childhood memories, such as lot 141 in Part II, titled I Give You My Tears and dated 2005.
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