Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)
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Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)


Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)
signed, dated and numbered ‘Parviz 70, 5/6’ (on the base)
63 x 51 1/8 x 31 ½in. (160 x 130 x 80cm.)
Executed in 1970, this work is number five from an edition of six
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
D. Galloway (ed.), Parviz Tanavoli: Sculptor, Writer & Collector, Tehran 2000 (illustrated in colour, p. 163).
C. Pocock, Parviz Tanavoli Monograph, Dubai 2010 (illustrated in colour, p. 471).
Tehran, Institure for Promotion of Visual Art, A Selection of Iranian Contemporary Art, 2004 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
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Lot Essay

From the sought-after series of sculptures made in 1970 in six variations of flashy colours, the present Heech is one of the artist's most important and impressive fiberglass three-dimensional works, that explores the central notion of Heech. Rooted in Tanavoli's Persian folk heritage, it is essentially one of his most Pop creations, revealing the everlasting dualities between tradition and modernity that are at the core of Tanavoli's production.
The Heech series started as a protest against the overuse of traditional calligraphy and much like Duchamp's Fountain, it aimed at questioning the values of art in place and redefined the contemporary aesthetics. By definition, the Heech was therefore provocatively Pop.
'I found there is so much in the Heech, that Heech is not nothing. Heech is something. Then later, as time went on, I realised that there is so much meaning behind it and so many poets prior to me, from centuries ago, have paid attention to this word and have used it and that is how it began.' (The artist quoted in A. Smith, "Iran's most celebrated visual artist, Parviz Tanavoli, speak to MEMO about his work", in The Middle East Monitor, 3 Feb 2015, accessed online).

With its simple abstracted shape, the present Heech stands proud, like a human body elegantly twisted, with an anatomy that is inspired by the votive objects and architecture seen in Tehran's bazaars, whilst recalling the commercial neon lights and banners that decorated the it's alleys. This fiberglass Heech impersonates folk pop, a marriage of pop with traditional handicraft and spiritual legacy; it is a profoundly avant-gardist sculpture that revealed Tanavoli's advance on his time and his singularity as an artist at work in the Tehran of the 1970s.

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