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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, USA
'The same themes that interested me in Tehran showed up in my work in Minneapolis, except that instead of Farhad, whom few would have known in America, I chose the 'poet' as a subject. The poet was sometimes alone and sometimes alongside his beloved. In my imagination, the poet was the freest of all humankind. I considered him to be like the birds of the air, belonging everywhere'. (Parviz Tanavoli)
With his sculptural poetry, Parviz Tanavoli is undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern art. The Poet's Family and The Wall, are both great examples of the artist's celebrated career.
A student of the well-known Tuscan sculptor and artist Marino Marini (1901-1980) in Italy in the late 1950s, Parviz Tanavoli explored Persian classical poetry and his own cultural heritage in his contemporary work. Further to his encounter in Tehran with the great American art collector Abby Grey, he went on to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where he settled as a visiting artist and soon dedicated himself mostly to bronze-casting. Upon his return to Iran in 1964 and until today, Tanavoli began his Poet series and later the Wall series along with his Heech, Prophets and Lovers as ideal combinations of Persian Poetry, as the purest emanation of the human soul and Architecture.
The Poet's Family dated 1970 is more than a mere assemblage of simplified cubes and cylinders. The geometrical figures without hands nor arms are devoid of facial expression. These elements fall behind the metaphorical veil of abstraction reminiscent of the ubiquitous shrines of Islamic architecture where the sacred is hidden behind delicate grills. The Poet as the continuation of Farhad the Mountain Carver appears as the annunciator of freedom. When in 1971 Parviz Tanavoli returned to Minneapolis, a historical exhibition was held at the Martin Gallery in his honour where twenty-two unique sculptures were displayed. Amongst these featured the present work The Poet's Family, one of the earliest of the series, depicting the Poet himself and his beloved in a simple albeit schematic composition. With this sculpture, Tanavoli not only evoked Persian poetry but also revealed his Saqqakhaneh inspiration, his memories of his fatherland's architecture and perhaps his own family story as his first daughter was born in 1970.
Later in his career, Parviz Tanavoli began his iconic series known as the Walls of Iran. The present Wall, created in 2008, is a delicate bronze sculpture reminiscent of the ancient Egyptian, Sumerian, Arabic or Farsi reliefs as well as the Saqqakhaneh iconography. The surface of the work articulated with intricate and intentionally undecipherable inscriptions gives the work a universal resonance. Once again, the work falls between poetry and architecture and reveals the artist's will to evoke his cultural heritage. Inspired by traditional talismanic objects of Ancient Persia, latticework of Islamic architecture, Farsi alphabet and objects collected by the artist himself, the motives and scripts onto the surface of the work are delicate and finely-crafted ornaments. The silhouette of the work resembles the stone piers left standing in Persepolis as a memorabilia of Persian history whilst rooted in modern times.
Both present works are from the most sought after series of Parviz Tanavoli's career. Other similar works appear in important private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. Tanavoli's 'poetry in bronze' is not only lyrical but also strikingly modern. The Poet's Family and The Wall are both unique and perhaps one of the most intimate and delicate bronze sculptures by Parviz Tanavoli ever to be seen at auction.