Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (French, born in Iran 1937)
Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importat… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION, NEW YORK
Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (French, born in Iran 1937)


Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (French, born in Iran 1937)
signed in Farsi, signed and dated 'Zenderoudi 81' (lower right)
acrylic on canvas
44 ½ x 63 3/8in. (113 x 161.5cm.)
Painted in 1981
Private Collection, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
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Post lot text
This work is sold with a certificate of authenticity and will be included in the forthcoming Charles-Hossein Zenderoudi catalogue raisonné.

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Lot Essay

'Ever since I completed the Ecole des Beaux Arts of Tehran in 1957, I wanted to take advantage of the richness of Eastern art and mix it with Western Art to produce a synthesis in works that would be avant-garde.'
(The artist, quoted in L.A. Lawrence, "Letter, Word, Art", in Saudi Aramco World, 1997, unpaged.)
As the pioneering figurehead of Iranian neo-traditionalism and one of the founding fathers of the most influential art movement to have emerged from Iran in the twentieth century, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi is one of Iran's most accomplished Modern Masters whose works continue to dazzle and captivate many around the world. Drawing on centuries of vibrant and rich cultural traditions, Zenderoudi, along with other well-known artists such as Faramaz Pilaram (Lot 27) and Parviz Tanavoli (Lot 23 & 24) broke from the traditional boundaries of classic calligraphy and embraced a neo-traditionalist style which was to become known as the Saqqakhaneh movement, launching Zenderoudi into the international arena as one of the ten most famous living artists along with the likes of Frank Stella and Andy Warhol by Connaissance des Arts. The Saqqakhaneh School took its name from the traditional architectural structures that appear throughout Iranian cities housing public drinking fountains that are traditionally embellished with Persian poetry, popular illuminations and Islamic texts serving as an allegory for quenching the soul with knowledge while simultaneously quenching the body of thirst. Fascinated by the amalgamation of haphazard imagery that maintained its mass appeal, Zenderoudi and his counterparts focused on dense talismanic imagery, mixing iconography and freehand script and numerals in condensed compositions that sought to capture the visual intensity of these popular forms of expression in Iran and modernise them.
In 1960, after winning a prestigious prize at the Paris Biennale, Zenderoudi settled in Paris the following year. Although the memories of his homeland remained poignant and continued to form the foundation from which he continues to draw inspiration from, his exposure to and influence by Western art movements as well as the linguistic philosophies of Jean-Michel Foucault and Ferdinand de Saussure at the time allowed Zenderoudi to create a unique sense of dialogue and navigation between Western and Eastern art as a dialogue in an inimitable style. It was at this juncture that Zenderoudi would demonstrate a new interest in the aesthetics that would employ calligraphy to construct vibrant, multi-layered and complex compositions. Although this subject matter has historically been the most established mode of formal artistic expression prevalent in Iran, Zenderoudi offered a new perspective by taking the Farsi word and letter and deconstructing it through emphasis of form over meaning to its aesthetic, structural and foundation to subvert the traditional values, creating repetitive shapes and structures. His intention became to empty words from their literal meaning, by freeing these letters from any sort of linguistic association and reducing them down to repetitive shapes, Zenderoudi imbues his 'writing' - which he prefers to use as a term instead of calligraphy - with a sense of universality giving it a renewed relevance in a contemporary context. It was during this extremely sought after period of experimentation that the artist painted Tchaar-Bagh for example, one of his most important masterpieces that was sold at Christie's in 2008 and holds the world record for the artist at auction, or as was recently offered at Christie's in October 2015 SAAD. It reflects Zenderoudi's intention to challenge traditional notions of the written word.
Christie's is proud to present a striking example from the artist's oeuvre; painted in 1981, this work is emblematic of Zenderoudi's production from this period, with its lyrical and monumental composition of various sizes of pink sweeping abstracted letters. Embracing the exuberance of the vibrancy of his colour palette, it is almost rhythmic in its grace and balance, seemingly measured but spontaneous as the letters and words are depicted in the form of waves that ripple across the canvas. Various sizes and shapes of elongated and compressed letters expand and contract, fragments and hints of words emerge here and there, yet no coherent meaning can be found but still the artist manages to produce a harmonious symphony with a spiritual intensity that is reminiscent of the systematic repetition of letterforms in the mystical practice of Sufism.
Meanwhile as several artistic movements emerged in Europe and America, it was the Pop Art movement that particularly caught Zenderoudi's attention. Feeling that the principles of Pop Art fit very much within the philosophies that he had applied when he founded the Saqqakhaneh school and his artistic development from his relocation to France, the present work is a seminal example that, much like Pop Art employs the mass use of calligraphy and the written word with an emphasis on the banal and kitsch element of the Iranian culture, exemplified by his use of bright and flashy pink. Removing any sort of context from its Iranian origins, Zenderoudi thus allows his work to maintain a mass international appeal.
From the artist's most sought after period, Zenderoudi's XXXXXXXXX is invigorated with multiple stylistic innovations which unfold in a single canvas. The artist here imposes opposite movements and intertwined graphic spaces with shades and hues of pink that oscillate with a vibrant energy against a black background leaving a peripheral empty space on the canvas that in turn creates one of the most striking pictorial compositions from the artist that has ever come to auction.


Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (French, Born in Iran 1937)
Variation Tendre-Tourmaline, 1972 (sold at Christie's Dubai 19 March 2014; price realised: US $135,750)

Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (French, Born in Iran 1937)
Tchaar-Bagh, 1981 (sold at Christie's Dubai 30 April 2008; price realised: US $1,609,000)

Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (French, Born in Iran 1937)
SAAD, 1981 (sold at Christie's Dubai 20 October 2015; price realised: US $365,000)

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