Iranian literary and mystic heritage makes the basic inspiration source for Shahriar Ahmadi’s work. His paintings might be seen as visual renditions of Iranian mystic poetry. His point of departure is always a recognizable narrative, typically coming from an Iranian-Islamic backdrop and generally relating forgotten heroes and noble people who celebrated love and sacrifice. The narrative in Shahriar Ahmadi’s work often comes from the literature reciting such epical moments. Iranian calligraphy and traditional painting might easily be recognized as the immediate sources of inspiration in The Tree of the Wisdom. The painting frame is itself a direct reference to Iranian book illumination. The blues and golden tonalities make up a spectrum well-known in ancient Iranian miniatures. All these familiar elements, however, are used to convey the artist’s subjective and personal outlook. He plays with age-old illustration canons and ultimately presents an extremely colourful palette. The words and images burst into pieces in the painting surface, though demonstrating an overall order out of the chaos. With all their thematic content, the visual features of the paintings display a notable proximity to the Abstract Expressionist movement. Ahmadi has a remarkable gift for abstraction, and masterfully realizes its potentials. The scriptures are usually illegible, adding a contemporary touch to the old calligraphy tradition. Other major characteristics of his work include active dynamism, anarchy, concurrence of text and image, and a synthesis of traditional and modern calligraphy juxtaposed with gestural, multicoloured brushstrokes. Addressing recurrent themes in an abstract context does not lead to repetition and monotony. The overall compositions testify to the artist’s mastery of both Western modern principles and Iranian traditional painting canon. Edward Lucie-Smith describes his work as confident and elegant: “If one looks at the way in which Ahmadi’s work has developed, one sees him gradually shedding western influences, and becoming more specifically Iranian as he does so. His most recent series refer to Iranian book art, but could never, even at their most figurative, be thought of as direct copies. I say ‘even at their most figurative’; because one of the fascinating things about these paintings is the way they slide in and out of figurative representation. … In fact, one of the things that distinguish Ahmadi’s work is the confident elegance of the facture. He has been able to translate the swift, confident elegance of Iranian penmanship into terms that suit working in acrylic on canvas. Much contemporary art appropriates from previous styles, often it must be said in a leaden and clumsy way. This could never be said of Ahmadi’s work, which is joyously swift and confident. He takes from the past, but never imitates it”.