The discovery of the values and capacities of letters of the Persian alphabet in creating fresh forms of visual arts is a major concern for Hossein Zenderoudi. Persian letters and words in his work are intertwined to reveal “unity in diversity”, creating a mass of dazzling forms.
Although Zenderoudi’s works appear to be calligraphic at first sight, they are considered paintings more than anything else. Painting letters of various sizes, Zenderoudi challenges formal qualities of words, customizing calligraphic forms to define new boundaries for visual perception. Highlighting the figurative structures of letters, Zenderoudi strips them of their known meanings and re-defines calligraphic values in Persian art to boost the aesthetic value of words and to channel them toward a general meaning – a totally new personal experience for him. Thus there is no use trying to read words in Zenderoudi’s paintings. Illegibility bears particular significance in the artist’s mind, demonstrating his intention to distinguish letters from manuscripts and the art of calligraphy. French critic, Jean-Claude Carrière, comments on his work, “Venturing into the works of Zenderoudi amounts to departure from forms and environs that we normally live in.”
This is one of the most outstanding works of Zenderoudi created during the 1970s that clearly reveals the mental image of the artist. It comprises several horizontal color surfaces covered with letters and words of various size. The creative use of twisting lines of letters and words is considered as a modern graphic element, inducing a perfect sense of depth when combined with the resulting rhythm. The gaze of the spectators gradually penetrates deep into the surface of the work and an unknown world is unfurled before their eyes. The text is purposefully illegible, free from lingual barriers. Letters thus assume such a universal efficacy that offer novel capabilities of lingual thinking.
Zenderoudi is inspired by Persian traditions of illustration in creating dense spaces. The use of dense spaces, as an essence of Persian art, is evident in mural painting, carpet design, and decorative tiling of architectural designs. Thus his works, especially the present painting, enjoy high visual density. Another unique quality that links this work to Iran is the intelligent application of paint. Green, white, and red are the colors of Iran’s flag, hoisted in the middle of the picture. Azure blue brings to mind the color of the ocean, embracing the flag; a symbol of the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
The present painting along with other works of this collection that were created during the early 1970s indicate a particular shift in Zenderoudi’s work. While we see a reduction in the recurring equal dense forms of previous works, the use of small and large letters highlights qualities of these alphabetical forms. All this added to the application of rich bright colors, bold textures, and skillful use of balance and composition has turned this painting into one of Zenderoudi’s major works that was sold for £98,500 at the Bonham’s Auction in April 2015. Hossein Zenderoudi is an Iranian artist whose singular, bold works have always enjoyed a great market. His painting was sold for $1,600,000 at the Fourth Christie’s Auction to set a record for the most expensive work of Iranian modern art.