Farhad Moshiri is a master of 'cool' and kitsch. The contemporary artist has the genius ability to employ
popular and fashionable motifs and materials to make bold and eye-catching statements about popular
culture and materialism. Apart from its impressive size and Moshiri's signature use of candy-like,
shimmering ornaments and brilliant lacquers, the present work entitled Scream'n Demons is a kitschy
and witty commentary on modern society and its obsession with consumerism, competition and thus
the need for acceptance and conformity. Christie's is proud to present this exciting work by the soughtafter Iranian artist, acquired by the present owner from the renowned Gallery Perrotin.
Dressed in leather bodysuits and brightly coloured helmets that resemble sirens atop an ambulance or police car, six clone-like motorcyclists who look like robots from the future are each seated on a motorcycle. Each vehicle is a fearsome hot rod with its own distinctive and striking paint-job, corrugated metal handles and individualistic windshields with eccentric lights, one being that of a sharp-toothed monster and the other of a flaming head. A formidable and tough sextet, the motorcyclists appear as a 'biker-gang' from hell with their intimidating and customised rides. Moshiri thus demonstrates a keen interest and understanding of biker culture and drag races from the clothing to the vehicular customisation, perhaps with a hint of humour and sarcasm.The sheen of the metal bikes, the shine of the patent leather biker gear and plastic helmets, the glossy appearance of the painted bikes and flat tarmac are all details Moshiri has put particularly emphasis on. The artist uses flat brushstrokes and glossy paint to reinforce those details, while simultaneously giving each vehicle a plastic and animated look to convey the origin of the depicted bikes, which were vintage toys. The painted bikes are rendered rather similar to their real-life toy counterparts, 'scream'n demons', which were the 'hot wheels' equivalent for toy motorcycles from the 1970s. Moshiri also makes a statement about how real motorcycles, some of which look like 'scream'n demons', are often viewed as playthings, thus bringing Moshiri's commentary on spending culture, conspicuous consumption and related flashiness to the forefront.
Moshiri's promulgation of material objects and the theme of consumerism through his art are widely known. His work is rooted in the Pop style, pioneered by the likes of Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. It is not only the colours and materials he uses in his work, but also the very concept of flashy motorcycles - perpetuated in society by toys like 'scream'n demons'- which draw attention to the driver as they zoom past on their two-wheeled speed machines, that makes Moshiri's works in line with Pop. Furthermore, the work raises an interesting debate on the connotations of monster bikes with the thrill of speeding as well as attention seeking - is Moshiri glorifying these dangerous concepts or is this simply a nostalgic recollection of a toy from his own childhood? Thus, through his
utilisation and criticism of themes in popular culture, Moshiri reigns supreme as the most established, contemporary artist to come from Iran. Conversely, the painting alludes to the theme of childhood. 'Scream'n demons' were manufactured by toy-manufacturer Hasbro in the 1970s and childhood has been a recurring theme in Moshiri's body of work, one of the most famous examples of which is the monumental Secret Garden, which was sold at Christie's Dubai in April of 2013 for nearly $1 million. In the present lot, Moshiri has immortalized a popular, vintage toy - perhaps one with which he, too, played with as a child - to outlive even the most well preserved memorabilia. It also relates to society's slight obsession with series, collecting and hoarding. There is a close association between the theme of childhood and the glittery and multicoloured crystals Moshiri uses to delineate the road, as if the artist is suggesting that the realm of the riders exists within a whimsical world, perhaps a fantasy world from one's childhood. In this way, the artist present's a nostalgic view of a time gone by, when 'scream'n demons' were all the rage amongst children. Moshiri began incorporating gaudy crystals and iridescent stones in his work to reflect the ostentation and excess of the growing Iranian nouveau riche society. The chandeliers that hung in the houses of the rich served as a starting point for Moshiri to incorporate crystals into his works, alluding to the artificial make believe lifestyles Iranians emulated, the glittery and shimmering stones blurred the lines between the real and the fake, just as how they blur the lines between reality and fantasy in this work. His use of these crystals in the present work is a nod to use of such embellishment in other works.
At first glance, all bike riders look the same, conveying a sense of unity, but the irony is that their alikeness reflects a lack of individuality; Moshiri presents the concept of herd mentality, which is rampant in consumer society - people often follow what others are doing and want what others have. It also reflects a desire to fit in and be assimilated into the dominant culture. Moshiri being a nonconformist, has quite literally presented these tropes on his canvas and that is what makes this present lot captivating and spectacular - it is one of the most significant works questioning material
society in the Iranian maverick's oeuvre spanning over twenty years. Scream'n Demons is undeniably a collector's piece, one that stands at the core of Farhad Moshiri's artistic and social commentary and wisely combines his signature and intentional kitsch style with acute sarcasm and irony.