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خبر و رسانه

21    Massoud Arabshahi (b. 1935)

List Of Lots

More Info

Art Title : Untitle

Signature: “M. Arabshahi 35” in Farsi (lower right)
mixed media on canvas
135×180 cm
Executed in 1976


1,500 - 2,000 Million IRR

Price realized

2,200,000,000 IRR

About Art Work

Like an architect, Arabshahi engineers his visual space by intersecting and, at the same time, allusive, archetypal lines to depict his primordial mythological figures on a mysterious background. He boasts a good knowledge of paint and application of numerous layers of paint, remarkably capable of harnessing lines. When we take a closer look at this work we are captivated by a violent world of rich, pseudo-archaic colors. At the same time, lines possess such a strength and solidity that we immediately recognize them as Arabshahi’s lines. Arrangement of fine blue, red and orange lines, even though rarely used in the work, ruptures the symmetric composition of the work and implies iconography of forms and formal archetypes by producing simple geometric forms.

Massoud Arabshahi’s mysterious, abstract images in this particular work is a representation of a world that is in the process of creation. Many mythological stories suggest that the world was created amid dark inexistence, and in this restless birth, dazzling rays of light were shed on the newly-born world to bring everything into existence by turning absence into presence. As in the birth of the most ancient mythological figures in the history of mankind, such as Mithra, glowing light was created out of darkness, a similar theme can be detected in Massoud Arabshahi’s work. Although Arabshahi is applying, in some instances, dark colors in these works, they magnificently illustrate, by inducing visual depth, a fundamental concept of birth and creation at the moment a spectator is delving into the work. Perhaps this work is showing the moment of birth, the moment when gold and khaki background and world-shaping lines gradually appear on the canvas. We can imagine that before such colors were applied on Arabshahi’s canvas, Earth was in total darkness and sub-zero temperature. It was a time when there was neither humans and plants nor the four natural elements – except the earth – on Earth until finally an early mythological figure such as Mithra was born to the world, bringing with her water, wind and fire to bestow upon Earth a different luster.

Arabshahi based his early work upon Mesopotamian leitmotifs, but later reached a global capacity. His work does not belong to a specific time and place anymore. Therefore, he considers himself the creator of a national, contemporary style with no geographical boundaries. He says,

“I never tried to define and limit lines and patterns to a specific time and place so as to produce conscious rupture in my work. An interest in Sumerian and Assyrian patterns and sculptures has, no doubt, gone through phases and assumed different appearances. Developments in my work are limited to methodology and an intriguing emotional concentration. A development in fundamental analysis of ancient and mythological works and a full understanding of modern art helped me reveal the concepts in my mind and assume a leading role in creation of a national style. In general, I created works by making smart choices and by establishing new connections among visual elements, conceiving a mental image without the use of narration. The other element that has always been of utmost importance is time. A majority of my works have their roots in history, while they are obviously contemporary and up-to-date. I treated the space of painting in a way it represented a modern visual space. Although I benefitted from antiquated patterns and symbols in my compositions, these archetypes never assumed a static, uncreative form; rather, they presented a dynamic quality. Dynamism, movement and time are so established and assimilated into my work that they reveal no sign of their western ancestry.”[1]

[1] Interview of Mohammad Shamkhani with Massoud Arabshahi, “Critical Review of some Pioneers of Iranian Contemporary Art”, Tehran, 2005