The present work is a subtle example from the acclaimed career of Sohrab Sepehri, a pioneer of Modern Iranian art who remains equally famous for both his poetry and his poignant body of paintings.
Born in Kashan in 1928, Sepehri travelled at a young age to explore the world. His journey began in 1957 when he first settled in Paris and enrolled in the Académie des Beaux-Arts. The following year, he stayed in Rome and visited the Venice Biennale, but Japan was his next destination and perhaps the most inspiring of all. When in 1960 Sepehri went to Tokyo to study the techniques of wood engraving and lithography, his career as a painter was forever changed.
In this untitled composition, one senses Sepehri's dedication to Zen philosophy and his passion for the Far-Eastern traditional arts. The forms, either attenuated or broad, resemble calligraphy, but are also reminiscent of the misty landscapes of Japanese hand-painted scrolls. Affected by his exposure to the works of the Zen masters Sesshu Toyo and Hakuin Ekaku, he depicted minimal and meditative landscapes, leaving the viewer to imagine what is beyond the surface of the work.
With soft brushstrokes, subtle outlines and an earth-toned palette, Sepehri depicts an abstract composition, almost timeless and beyond superficial reality. His fully abstracted tree-trunks are deprived of branches, leaves or any perceptible features and the serenity of the landscape that surrounds him, where the panorama is merely suggested, reveals his intimate understanding of life as it is reminiscent of his style in poetry. His works, like visual haikus or poetic imageries, inspire to move towards a realm, far beyond the material world, aspiring silence and simplicity, thus embarking the viewer on a journey of contemplation and discovery.
Sohrab Sepehri, one of the most acclaimed Modern Iranian artists, was a constant traveller, a visionary poet and a passionate painter. He passed away prematurely in 1980, but his oeuvre had a lasting influence on generations of artists in Iran and abroad.