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

Calligraphy

Details
Nasrollah Afjehei (Iranian, b. 1933)
Calligraphy
signed in Farsi and signed 'Afjei' (lower left)
acrylic on canvas
43 ¼ x 43 ¼in. (110 x 110cm.)
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Brought to you by

Michael Jeha
Michael Jeha

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 attests to 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 labeled 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 subdued earth tones coming out of the center of the composition create a beautiful harmony that resembles a six petal flower. ‘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 black Farsi letters that grow larger as the texts comes out of the middle - 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, this piece is an all-bearing example of Afjehei’s oeuvre, tinted with spirituality. He constructed illusionary perceptions in this work, gradually alternating thick and thin lines and elaborating an ancestral technique originally ruled by religious principles to form a symbolic art.

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