Christie's is delighted to offer the present lot, an exquisite example from Sohrab Sepehri's Trees series. The Trees series by this widely acclaimed and highly rated artist is unquestionably the painter's most sought-after series, that stands beyond the conventional style of landscape painting because of the poetry he injects onto his canvas. To quote the artist, 'He who can see a garden sketched in the tree's memory is forever enlightened by the rupture of Eden's zephyr' (an extract from Sohrab Sepehri's poem "Sureh Tamasha", in A. Kabir, Sohrab Sepehri - Poet (in Farsi), Tehran 1990, p. 141). The concept of Eden's zephyr, a figurative term which means 'a soft gentle breeze', evokes a sense of influence by the garden of Eden, the idyllic garden or paradise. For Sepehri, a tree is more than its trunk, bark and its leaves; it represents the Garden of Eden itself.
Depicted in an austere style that reveals his ascetic intent, Sepehri's trees are featured without leaves or branches, displaying a keen focus on the sturdy quality of the trunks. Lacking in individual features, the trees reflect the artist's belief in the beauty of 'the concise', a principle derived from the Zen tradition, for which Sepehri developed an inclination after travelling to East Asia, particularly Japan, in the 1960s. Sepehri paints his tree trunks in a way that is reminiscent of the misty landscapes of Japanese hand-painted scrolls. He demonstrates a deep understanding for the essence and the metaphysical meaning of the tree and often depicts only a portion of the tree trunk on his canvas without any additional features. Combined with vast swathes of blank space, the textured trees truncated by the picture plane thus seem to exist beyond the boundaries of the composition. Sepehri's restrained palette, which consists of earthy greys, browns and greens, equally reflects the formal limitations of the Zen tradition and is reminiscent of the ink parchments illustrated by the Zen masters Sesshu Toyo and Hakuin Ekaku.
Deprived of any superfluous details and balanced in their composition, Sepehri's delicately textured trees inspire the viewer to reflect upon the essence of life. Trees are the fundamental and unpretentious representations of nature and there are many different meanings associated with trees; one such significance is that of the tree of life as the bodies of trees are rooted in earth, taking from the earth its water and minerals in order to flourish. Trees are also often associated with immortality and longevity, thus subtly echo the philosophical beliefs of the artist. The present work is one of such poetic works by the celebrated Iranian artist and is without a doubt a collector's piece.