In his work, Sohrab Sepehri visualizes the experience of moments in a profoundly romantic manner. His travels to the East and West contributed to a personal style, just as his poetry was a true reflection of his philosophical thinking. His continued efforts toward exploiting the aesthetic accomplishments of the West as well as his conscious awareness of Persian mysticism and Oriental approach to landscape and trees afforded him innovative pictures that seem to visualize objective and subjective poetry.
Minimalized landscapes in Sepehri’s work that occasionally verge on pure abstraction represent moments of reflection in the surrounding world, as if they portray spontaneously the moment when the artist’s mind unites with the spirit of the universe.
This work is an example of a major collection of Sohrab Sepehri’s work titled the Tree Trunk that clearly reveals the quality of his painting. Sohrab exploited his unique style to create a dense composition, comprising minimalized flat tree trunks in a geometric form that highlighted the textures of the trees. Sepehri applied slightly dark paint here, as in many of his works, while the minimalized elements of the picture played a decisive role in the composition. Application of paint has created a coarse, porous texture for trees. Dense trees in this painting bring to memory old, thick Iranian forests. However, the painting is not a mere visualization of a few tree trunks due to the absence of details. This is a “familiar” work being “defamiliarized”, where Sepehri creates “symbolic” trees that belong to another world; the world of the artist’s imagination that is a product of his contemplation in nature.
Sohrab Sepehri is just as sensitive to the choice of vocabulary for his poetry as to the composition of his paintings, juxtaposition of colors, and application of minimalized elements. He experimented with diverse visual elements to achieve a personal style that expressed his deep thoughts. To achieve that, Sepehri made use of gouache and oil. His work is characterized by positive void spaces next to landscape painting as well as the creation of abstract concepts – evident in his small and large paintings.
His continued endeavors to discover commonalities of painting and poetry led to the production of a collection titled the Tree Trunks during the 1970s. They were mostly oil paintings on canvas of various dimensions. The singular harmony of color and line in achieving a semi-abstract atmosphere as well as his skill in creating texture has made these among his outstanding paintings. The philosophic meaning of the tree in Persian mythology, on the one hand, and the use of modern techniques, and minimalized semi-abstract forms, on the other, enhances the effect of painting on the mind of audience, giving life to a simple and fluid yet meaningful artwork similar to his poetry.
The result of all this contemplation and thinking is a pure visual identity that has been able to introduce Sepehri’s paintings as the most outstanding, invaluable works of Iranian modern art. The presence of his paintings both in domestic and international markets with record setting sales is the best witness to this assertion. This indicates how successful Sohrab Sepehri has been in creating precious and unique works during his lifetime.
Sohrab Sepehri is an iconic figure of the Iranian art market both domestically and internationally. Previously popular for his simple, exquisite poetry, Sepehri won popularity for his paintings later on. A record-breaking IRR 28,000 million sale of his work at the Tehran Auction in 2015 is considered an astonishing phenomenon in the market of Iranian contemporary art.