Although a key figure in Modern Iranian Art, Iranian artist, poet and intellectual Sohrab Sepehri moved away from the typical Saqqakhaneh movement that was originally pioneered by Tanavoli, Zenderoudi and Pilaram and produced works that ultimately pursued a personal quest; painting elements of nature. Enraptured with a deep and profound attachment to the beauty of his childhood home in the small city of Kashan, his homage to his deep rooted heritage and untamed grace through the use of minimalism and partial abstraction merging East with West remains a source of inspiration to many today.
A constant traveler, Sepehri lived in France, Italy and Japan, before finally re-settling in Tehran where he dedicated his life to the arts. His artistic style was principally influenced by his time in Tokyo in the 1960s, where he mastered the techniques of lithography and wood engraving. Inspired by the Far Eastern traditional arts, particularly haikus, Sohrab Sepehri painted dreamy images resembling calligraphy that are simultaneously reminiscent of both the misty landscapes of Japanese hand-painted scrolls and Persian literary sources, therefore fusing his myriad inspirations.
His majestic portrayals of semi-abstract groves of trees, with sweeping boughs within minimalistic Impressionist landscapes achieve a timeless reverie that captures the transcendent and mythical grandeur of nature and the forests he was so fond of. Harbouring an undeniable mystical quality that was without a doubt inspired by Sufi philosophies, Sepehri's works create a richness of expression in purity and simplicity of form, colour and composition that create a harmonious symbiosis between nature and civilisation. Sepehri came to see that the purity of nature was an antidote to the corruption of the human condition and thus in his oeuvre, characterised by a deep fascination of nature, celebrates the tree as a symbol of compassion and stability in a world corrupted by ignorance and malevolence. Thus, the tree became a symbol of solace for the artist, in which he found a simplicity that would put him at ease, reflecting his introspection and state of mind.
Employing a minimalistic use of line, colour and tone, Sepehri's timeless works, of which the present painting is a delightful example, reflect an elegance that speaks of the miniature painting and Sufist ideals of Iranian heritage but with a sensitivity that is a nod to the Zen philosophy that heavily inspired the artist during his time in Japan. Sepehri plays on the flattening of space and earth palette to create a composition that is delicately textured and balanced in a thoughtful selection of angles and cohesion of lines that hints at a tranquil and dreamlike world while simultaneously highlighting the artist's eternal love for Persian calligraphy.