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Nasrollah Afjehei (Iranian, b. 1933)
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Nasrollah Afjehei (Iranian, b. 1933)

Peacock

Details
Nasrollah Afjehei (Iranian, b. 1933)
Peacock
signed and dated in Farsi, signed ‘AFJEI’ (lower centre)
acrylic and ink on canvas
78 5/8 x 78 5/8 in. (200 x 200 cm.)
Painted in 2017
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Special Notice

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Sale Room Notice
Please note that this lot has been imported from outside the EU for Sale and placed under the temporary admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price.

Lot Essay

A pioneer member of the revolutionary Iranian neo-calligraphists group, Nasrollah Afjehei played a major role in the Naqqashi-khatt trend, in the 1970s. Being interested in calligraphy from a very young age, Afjehei practiced under the tutelage of many of the great Iranian calligraphers such as Mir Khani, Kimia Qalam, and Kaveh. After completing the very renowned Society of Iranian Calligraphers course in 1963-1964, the artist started working on the combination of Naqqashi - painting - and Khatt - script. The combination of these two terms describes the piece which has been realised by professional calligraphers as well as painters.

This impressive work, Peacock, attests the artist’s perfect technical mastery. Constantly inspired by the script of the Qur’an, Afjehei states, ‘When the inscriptions and decoration are added to these objects [Islamic buildings], they find their identity. I was fond of these motifs and inscriptions; they were blazing like solitaires, in bright sunshine for centuries, and had grown like flowers in the desert’. This claim insinuates that he never distorted art of calligraphy and of its conventions that he truly respected. Thus, he turned away from the abstract theory in order to create enchanting universes. Often labelled an abstract calligrapher and frequently asked what is written in his pieces, Afjehei states, ‘…there is nothing written to be read, it’s a notion as letters are just an excuse to make a form’.

In this moving and intense composition, the outlines and the blue tones create a beautiful harmony, which takes the shape of a peacock’s graceful tail, an animal that springs from an invisible source. ‘First of all, I choose the subject. Then I do the drawing and afterwards I choose the color. Then the main job is focusing on the details and perspectives. Every single movement is consciousness and appropriate. Without subtle structural details, there will be only letters that settled beside each other’. The painter’s precision is unparalleled as each line - constituted by tiny white Farsi letters - is meticulously realised. ‘It will take few days to connect to the subject before I start the artwork. Then I hang the canvas on the wall and do the drawing by pencil. Now it’s time to spread it on a wide table and start the Calligraphy with ink from the middle of the canvas,’ speaks the artist about how he approaches his work. Through this whirlpool, Afjehei maintains order through the cyclic rhythm that guides the gaze and ultimately confuses the viewer in these fabulous meanders of calligraphy.

Transporting the spectator to an extraordinary journey, Peacock is a revealing example of Afjehei’s oeuvre, tinted of spirituality. He constructed illusionary perspectives in this work, progressively alternating thick and thin lines an elaborating an ancestral technique originally ruled by religious principles to form a symbolic art.

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