As one of the most acclaimed international artists today, it has been since Farhad Moshiri’s return to his homeland Iran in 1991 that he has become an iconic figure of the contemporary Middle Eastern art scene known for his constant innovation in the use of art techniques. 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, Moshiri continues to challenge notions and norms of aesthetics. Inspired by the traditions and history of Iran, reconciling the ancient with the modern, his works are always imbued with self-reflection and observation of present life in Iran.
Reflecting on his deep passion and admiration for ancient Persian ceramics - of which he is an avid collector - the present outstanding work entitled YHGNL mimics the aged texture of these jars and vases through Moshiri’s use of crackled and flaked paint, intentionally attributing an aged and worn look to the surface in complex layers of gold leaf and black paint. In this stunning example from the artist’s oeuvre, the artist subtly alludes to his fascination with the Abjad alphabet, a symbolic language of numbers and signs which contains magical meanings and codes as is reflected in the titles of the works from this series. By spreading this Persian script over the canvas and having it bleed over the edges, Moshiri seems to have magnified a small fragment of these lavish objects and reproduced it onto his canvas. Although the subject and Moshiri’s flaking technique contribute to the antique flavour of this series, there is nonetheless a touch of Pop Art rendered by the almost graffiti-like appearance of the numbers and letters, reminiscent of Western Abstract Expressionism.
The use of gold leaf is recurrent through Moshiri’s works, simultaneously evoking his homeland’s glorious history while sarcastically alluding to the materialistic excesses that the artist observes in today’s consumerist society, particularly amongst the nouveau riche society in Iran and as such,epitomises the constant dualities that have been central in Moshiri’s artistic reflection. His works are never an obvious criticism, but are often faintly suggested through the kitsch sphere he creates. Moshiri’s Pop art and fantasy world allow him to surpass the restraints on freedom of expression imposed by Iran’s censorship and invite his viewers to choose their own interpretation.