There is a long tradition in Persian calligraphy of writing repeated letters to produce abstract compositions, which stretching back several hundred years. The practice was especially strong in Qajar Iran, a time when calligraphers, writing in shikasteh script, would fill entire pages with repetitions of certain letters without literal meaning. More recently, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, artists including Zenderoudi and Pilaram revived this tradition in contemporary Iranian art. To this day, Iranian artists are inspired by the expressive abstract possibilities of the Arabic/Persian letter.
In this series Pouran Jinchi demonstrates the beauty of the forms of Arabic script by focusing on a single character as her subject in each composition. The title Alef refers to the name of the first letter of Farsi, Arabic, and Hebrew alphabets. This series comprises 32 compositions, each of which concerns a single Persian letter.
As she says, "After 9/11 it became apparent that very few people in the U.S. could understand these letters except small number of academics and individuals with special interest in the subject, whereas English letters are globally familiar. My work is not about teaching anyone Farsi, but about making the look of a foreign language familiar to the viewer. Familiarity brings comfort and takes away fear."