Having studied at CalArts in California where he explored various mediums such as installations, video photography and painting, Farhad Moshiri came back to Tehran in 1991, at the end of the war with Iraq. Since then, his work has become iconic on the contemporary middle eastern art scene, as he constantly creates innovative art techniques of his own, from mimicking aged Persian ceramics to interpreting the Abjad alphabet, from making installations with acrylic 'pastries' to others entirely embroidered with beads and pearls, from incorporating Swarovksi crystals to his compositions to producing art pieces solely composed of knives. The rich variety of Moshiri's oeuvre not only lies in his creativeness as both painter and conceptual artist, but also in the eclectism of his visual vocabulary, where past and present meet. Reconciling the ancient with the modern is at the core of Farhad Moshiri's oeuvre, yet his works are always imbued with the artist's self-reflection and his observation of present life in Iran.
Creating an effect of crackled and flaked paint on the work's surface is one of Moshiri's innovative techniques. He uses it not only for his 'Jar' paintings as seen in the next lot, but also for his Numeral series, such as in the present untitled Numbers work. In this series, the artist pursues his fascination with the Arabic Abjad alphabet, a symbolic language of numbers and signs which contain magical meanings and codes. Lot . is a stunning example from this series, due to the complexity of the layers of different pigments, predominantly a vibrant pink which shows through in some areas of the painting's crackled surface. It also involves an extensive gold leaf work, a medium Moshiri would fully explore in his series of furniture and objects entirely covered with gold leaf, often representing not only today's consumer's society but also subtly alludes to the fact that for many people, one needs to be wealthy in order to be happy.
Abjad calligraphy frequently used to ornate and adorn manuscripts and talismanic garments in Iran and the Ottoman territories, conferring blessings and protection to the wearer, yet here, the focus is on the Abjad numericals. By spreading these elegant rows of Persian numbers over the canvas and having them bleed over the edges, Moshiri lets them give an almost geometrical structure to his lavishly textured surface. At the same time they offer a mysterious connotation through the symbolism often associated to numbers and their pattern recalling that of secret codes which need to be deciphered. Although Moshiri's flaking technique contribute to the 'antique' flavor of this series, there is usually a touch of Pop Art rendered by the almost 'graffiti'-like appearance of the numbers and letters, reminiscent of Western Abstract Expressionism. However, in the present example of Moshiri's Numbers series, the almost military alignment of the stylized numbers is visually overwhelming and inevitably raises questions on their role: do we live in a world ruled by numbers ? Is History simply a long string of successive dates ? Does one's happiness depend on numbers ? Language evolves and changes through time, but do numbers ?