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Mohammed Ehsai (Iranian, b. 1939)
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Mohammed Ehsai (Iranian, b. 1939)


Mohammed Ehsai (Iranian, b. 1939)
signed and dated in Farsi, signed and dated 'ehsaei 2014' (lower left)
oil and gold leaf on canvas
94½ x 65in. (240 x 165cm.)
Painted in 2014
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
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Lot Essay

A spectacular and dazzling example of the combination of traditional calligraphic practices with contemporary artistic form, the present work from Iranian artist Mohammed Ehsai is a representation of the continuation of an artistic movement that unites the old with the new. His unique style is considered highly influential for the younger generation of contemporary Iranian calligraphers and graphic designers.
In this work, Ehsai engages in a visual language that is strongly influenced by structural calculations and the use of calligraphy in architecture, yet offers a new interpretation of the tradition of graphic arts by transforming colouration, execution and the use of material in a reconfigured sphere which has been made possible by modern graphics. Each long and delicate brushstroke conveys his deep artistic passion and each letter becomes an individual visual element that comes together as a whole. In the present work, Ehsai uses a monochromatic palette of black against a shimmering gold background. By choosing to recreate long sweeping lines of alifs (the first letter in the Arabic/Persian alphabet) juxtaposed against filled pockets of denser intertwined and illegible letters, Ehsai recreates a mystical trance-like composition, perpetuated by a deep vibrancy of movement instigated by the lyrical curvature of each letter. The artist's key inspiration derives from religious texts and Islamic calligraphic styles that are indicative of a supreme order derived from centuries of utopian idealism within religion. Since the written word has historically been used as a tool for the documentation and transfer of knowledge, each written piece, before even being read, holds an intellectual weight. As such, the presence of written forms and words in an artistic creation, let alone in calligraphic art, places that piece in a symbolic order of meaning.

As is characteristic of the artist's oeuvre, the monochromatic colour palette in the present lot also suggests a dualistic universe between what is legible and illegible, what is real and what is not and the dualism between the earthly and the spiritual. This striking visual contrast imparts the work with a high sense of alluring monumentalism.

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