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Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)
Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importat… Read more
Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)

Poet and the Key

Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)
Poet and the Key
incised with the artist's signature and date 'Parviz '08' (on the lower right of the top of the base plinth)
polished bronze and bronze with brown patina
41 1/8 x 11 x 9½in. (100.4 x 28 x 24.2cm.)
Executed in 2008, this work is unique
Special notice

Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importation value (low estimate) levied at the time of collection shipment within UAE. For UAE buyers, please note that duty is paid at origin (Dubai) and not in the importing country. As such, duty paid in Dubai is treated as final duty payment. It is the buyer's responsibility to ascertain and pay all taxes due.

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James Lees
James Lees

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Lot Essay

"...In Islamic concepts, love is something that you never reveal; you
always talk about it symbolically... When the poets speak of love, they might talk about the love of a nightingale toward a rose, for example, and the word woman is actually never mentioned i (Parviz Tanavoli).

His works often being described as poetry in
bronze, Iranian master Parviz Tanavoli is as much
a poet as he is a sculptor. He uses his sculptures to
represent subtle mystic and enchanting undertones,
materialising his appreciation of poetry and
architecture into solid forms, marrying together his
two true ideas of perfection.
Some of the major themes of Tanavolis works
include poets and prophets that have been created
since the early 1960s. The celebrated Persian poets
such as Rumi, Hafiz, Omar Khayyam and Saadi were
the greatest exponents of Sufism and mysticism in
which the love for human beings represent the love
for God. Tanavolis sculptures express the presence
of God through symbol and metaphor. The creation
of Tanavolis sculptures represents an unveiling
of his emotions and ideas, while also hiding
such emotions behind abstraction. As such, poets
have become an important theme of Tanavolis
works that exemplify this sense of the free soul.
Beginning with 1962, the Poet series, of which the
present lot is a delightful example, includes some
of the greatest works of the Iranian sculptor that
can be found in major collections such as Museum
of Modern Art in New York. Architecture and
poetry combine in Tanavolis Poets; the figures are
built of components which recall those of Islamic
architecture covered in an illegible poetic text.
Lyrical Persian poetry features some general
characteristics that help to explain the essential
qualities of Tanavolis sculptures. One underlying
aspect is the idea of concealment and revelation
at the same time which emerges not only in
poetry, but also in other dimensions of Persian
culture, most notably in architecture. By creating
his sculptures and thus disclosing his inner world,
Tanavoli reveals his emotion and ideas.
In Poet and the Key, Tanavoli brings together
multiple features of Iranian architecture that have
influenced him, particularly found in saqqakhanehs,
(sacred fountains), imamzadehs (shrines) and other
buildings in Iran. Notably, the lattice work grill
references the zarih (tomb) in the shrines, which
resembles a large cage placed in the centre of
a room. Pilgrims circumambulate the tomb and,
seizing hold of the grilles, pray or make pledges
and resolutions. They commune with the tomb
and confide in it as though it were a living thing.
They treat the large cage as the dwelling place of
a supernatural being. This behaviour bears a great
affinity to the life of the poet, who likewise has
associations with the cage that link him in turn to
the supernatural.
The key, a reference to the symbols that adorn
the public fountains, functions to highlight this
connection between the mystical world behind
the cage and the potential to unlock the mystical
powers within. By doing so Parviz Tanavolis
enchanting work demonstrates an interplay
between philosophy and playfulness, between
intense seriousness and occasional absurdity.


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