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


Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)
signed, numbered and dated 'Parviz.02.4/6' (on the top of the base)
painted fibreglass
height: 98½in. (250cm.)
Executed in 2002, this work is number four from an edition of six
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Dubai, Dubai International Financial Centre, Art Exhibition, 2009.

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Lot Essay

'"Nothing" is an aspect of God who is in all things and therefore in everything. The "nothing" is not God, but is a place where God could be in his purest state'.
(The artist quoted).
Parviz Tanavoli is a painter, a writer, a collector and above all an unprecedented sculptor. Having completed his artistic education at the Fine Art Academy of Carrera and later Milan, he returned to Tehran and contributed to the establishment of the Faculty of Decorative Arts and in 1960, he initiated the Atelier Kabboud which became a gathering point for innovative artists of the time and saw the birth of the Saqqakhaneh movement. Throughout his career, Tanavoli absorbed the rich visual, literary and craftsmanly traditions of his homeland and revealed his cultural heritage through his depictions of Poets, Messengers and Lovers and sought to realise his dream of creating 'sculptural poetry'. As early as the 1960s, Tanavoli started exploring the metaphorical meaning of 'heech' and moved away from the inclusion of words in his sculptures to solely dedicate his production to the word itself, sometimes combining it with a nightingale, a cage, a table or a chair. Heech became the artist's signature, an aesthetic amalgamation between the ideas of the Saqqakhaneh and American Pop Art that he discovered while living and teaching in Minnesota.
Like Andy Warhol who referred to the Campbell Soup can and portrait of Marilyn Monroe as 'the essence of nothing' or Robert Rauschenberg's blank canvases or empty cardboard boxes that could hardly impersonate anything other than nothingness, Parviz Tanavoli explored the visual characteristics of those three letters that in Farsi formed the word Heech. In Farsi, Heech means 'nothing'. It reflects the feelings of unworthiness, frustration and ineffectiveness which haunt modern man and permeate so much of the writing of contemporary literature. It also renders in a single word the mystical belief that recognises that God is permanent, while everything else has no true substance, bound to vanish; the other seeks dissolution of the individual personality to find union with the God. Whereas Warhol's or Rauschenberg's concept of nothingness revealed despair and absence, Tanavoli's Heech mirrors creativity as it stands as a void filled by the artist's endless imagination.
The calligraphic rendition of the word Heech in Farsi is a subtle curvilinear form that is reminiscent of the human body and as such, the Heech becomes a joyful composition often bearing a unique whimsical quality.
Tanavoli's fascination with the word Heech led him to produce numerous variations ranging from intricate jewelry to bronze statues and a series of dynamic, lustrous fibreglass sculptures of which the present work is the largest and most remarkable example. The monumental yellow Heech with its shiny and bright surface reflects contrasts of light and shade, while its sensuously elegant twisting shapes create harmony and balance. Exhibited in the outdoor podium of the Dubai International Financial Centre in 2009, this monumental Heech is one of the most accomplished sculptures by the artist and while it evokes the cultural heritage of the artist and the rich history of the Persian civilisation, it undeniably stands as a Pop masterpiece, a true collector's piece.

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