Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)


Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937)
ceramic on top of wooden base
17in. (43.2cm.)
Executed circa 1950, this work is unique.
Donald A. Jensen collection, USA (acquired directly from the artist).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Sale room notice
This Lot is Withdrawn.

Brought to you by

Michael Jeha
Michael Jeha

Lot Essay

“He is not just an artist, he is a real historian of Iran […] This is what’s extraordinary about him: his deep love of Iranian culture, everything he does, all his art stems out of that.” – British Museum

Considered one of Iran’s leading artists, most well-known for his bronze sculptures that are inspired by the art of calligraphy, Tanavoli is one of the founders of the Saqqakhaneh School, a neo-traditionalist movement that was recognized as the first school of Iranian modern art, with its associated painters and sculptors integrating components from Iranian folk art into their creations.

A sculptor, painter, scholar and art collector, Tanavoli’s work is based on a mixture of Islamic architecture and Persian poetry; these motifs are tangible in the present lot. The artist is a collector of tribal arts, resonating much with the current lot. Although different than what he normally crates, this ceramic sculpture still has the essence of Tanavoli’s motifs.

Measuring to almost half a meter, this vast sculpture depicts two figures laying on their stomachs with their legs bent at the knee. On their backs, we can see inscriptions inspired by geometry and mathematic proportions. However, the figures are most disproportionate. The figure on the right has shoulders stretching beyond his body, while the one on the left has gargantuan ears. The only thing that allows us to think of these characters as actual human beings is their facial features.

On the back of the work, Tanavoli has created a painting that depicts a vintage red car. To the left is a man’s suit and woman’s bathing suit, and while under the car is written ‘nobody is perfect’. This relates back to the imperfect figures, but can as well be referring to the social imperfection of Iran in the sense of equality between men and women.

Whether it’s his Heech sculptures or the present lot, Tanavoli’s work remains as some of the most pivotal in contemporary Iranian art.

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