Aydeen Aghdashloo (Iranian, b. 1940)
Enigma X
signed and dated 'Aydin 2009' (lower left)
gouache on paper
22½ x 22½in. (57 x 75cm.)
Painted in 2009

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William Lawrie
William Lawrie

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Lot Essay

This painting is from Aydeen Aghdashloo's important Enigma series, a continuation of his most famous series Memories of Destruction, in which Aghdashloo uses icons of Italian as well as Persian classical paintings, surbverting them by destroying much of the familiar images through tearing, crumpling, burning and scratching. Aghdashloo's primary source is Sandro Botticelli. He replicates the revered Western original but, the charm and sophistication of Renaissance portrait is undermined by his unremitting attempts to partially ruin them. By injuring and disfiguring these masterpieces, he communicates his discontent with the shattered values of our age. In the later works of this period, he extended his sardonic repertoire to include images with silhouetted faceless body, evidently lacking any sense of identity and orientation. The polemic in these works is even stronger, showing an increasing skepticism about the rhetoric of the dominant cultural power against the past periods.
In his works of the Enigma series he further intensifies his sarcastic language by supplying his images with silhouetted faceless body with the face often covered with cloths, which evidently lacks any sense of identity and orientation. These hybrid works have an even stronger element of polemic, which points to an increasing skepticism about the rhetoric of the dominant cultural power against the past periods, and thus maintain an explicit political edge. The artist's preoccupation with lost glory of the past is not merely intended to pay homage to his mentors, but to express a sense of devastation derived from the cultural decline and dissolution of values.

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