Undulating, fluctuating planes crowded with indecipherable letters from which ancient alphabets appear to emerge – these are the characteristics of a period in NasrollahAfjei’s painting career of which the canvas displayed is an outstanding example. This is a highly praised series of his work that has had a notable success in recent auctions.
We lean in close to discover exactly what it is that gives this painting its beauty and value. It goes without saying that many of these so-called ‘calligraphic-paintings,’ which stress the high value of ‘written imagery’ regardless of linguistic context, have been created after thousands of hours of filling volumes of penmanship exercise books.
What meets the eye most in this collection of Afjei’s work is the presence of long fine threads that come together to form ocean waves of calligraphy. These threads which have been drawn with fine and broad-tipped calligraphy pens are compressed into lines and columns that begin to transform into something far removed.
Here we see Afjeiworking in a metaphysical script. It is for this reason he keeps the shading from the rows of letters and preserves their grafting together with the essence of ‘sequence.’ The density and abstrusity of the intertwining threads assist the artist in giving dimension to his work. With the help of these threads he attains a flow, the first rule of calligraphy, which allows for a versatile fluidity. He uses the sequential axis of this metaphysical calligraphy to convey excellence upon mere physical words and letters and twist them in whichever direction he wishes.
Artists from his generation and after, who found this potential and used it to their benefit, have also created other styles with this animated aspect that relies on vibrant or circular forms. Yet,in this work, we can clearly see that Afjei is struggling with a hidden romanticism that holds him spellbound and forces him to use flowing, almost dancing movements. Although this artist courageously broke with tradition,as did others of his generation, he is indebted all the same to the ‘tastes’ of contemporary art. Nevertheless it must be stated that pioneers such as Afjei have shown great care with regard to the paradigm of aesthetics, an undeniable tendency that is evident in their work. In a way this may be the main reason for the success and popularity of their ‘artistic experiment’ which can be considered a type of esoteric connection with tradition.