A massive intricate fabric of letters appears unfolding in the infinite space. Indecipherable words and letters are composed in a creative version of Kufic scripture. Their wavelike gesture builds up a monumental structure, evoking, for example, a minaret. Afjei’s present piece of calligraphy-painting is based on complex Banaei (architectural) Kuficscript. The old Kufic scripture was traditionally used to inscribe sacred texts, chiefly Qur’an. Banaei (architectural) Kuficscript is a later development which was meant to integrate sacred verses into the architectural fabric. The precise geometrical style of this scripture led to a considerable loss of legibility, which nevertheless endowed this art with a level of mysteriousness. Influential German Orientalist scholar, Annemarie Schimmel, has argued that the complex network of Banaei (architectural) Kufic script, made in intricate brick and tile arrangements, has been so hidden in distant corners and closed angles of the mosques that made it impossible for the viewers to read and comprehend the content. This quality granted this scripture a mystifying character, associating it with magical words.
Afjei’s piece conforms to this feature. The magnificent curling inscription encourages any viewer to try to find a way to its content. Through a powerful and dynamic composition of letters, we finally decipher -with significant effort- the content, which reveals to be a poem by Hafiz, instead of the verses of the holy Qur’an. The pulsating letters represent the first verses of the ‘Divan of Hafiz’. This divergence, however, remains covert in the convoluted and labyrinth-like lines. The scripture is no longer meant to convey a meaning other than its pure significant form. Imitating architectural details is also among the characteristics of Afjei’s art. Here, the monumental size emphasizes this architectural effect.
The visual perfection of such works is based on a synthesis of refined, long-lasting traditions of Persian calligraphy and contemporary technology and worldview. Their perpetual aesthetic value is secured by a combination of brilliant visual quality, semantic ambiguity, fusion of diverse visual spaces, and masterful pictorial rendering.
A piece by Nasrollah Afjei was sold in Dubai Christies auction in April 2011 for 218,500 US dollars.