Farhad Moshiri’s pottery combines a contemporary vision with an archeological narrative. More than anything, these unearthed modern appliances challenge the meanings of style and time-tested value, forcing the observer to reconsider the eras referenced in contemporary or post-modern art and question at what point in time the separation from historical context occurred. Ancient Iranian pottery is clearly recognizable: pottery from Shushtar, Tepe Sialk and the ‘Burnt City’ are proud symbols that firmly reflect our Iranian heritage. Pottery-making and ceramics are among our greatest ancient arts, extending back to the first inhabitants of this region. The value of the pottery shards excavated at various sites is that their designs and glazed decorations can offer experts a view into the social and economic conditions, and even the customs, of an era.
At the end of the 1990’s, when Moshiri studied many old ceramic jars and urns in his home town of Shiraz, he was inspired by their forms, textures and craftsmanship. He subsequently went on to create a series of ceramics which have come to be known as the ‘Jug’ collection (‘Kooze-ha’). The recognizable pottery in this collection take form over a large surface through a minimalistic and, at times, primitive viewpoint. In some examples of this collection he has added words (of everyday common objects) in Nastaligh calligraphy. In this way, Moshiri’s work takes on a neo-pop sentiment which is at times ironic yet also alludes to literary references to these urns that were often used in the tradition of making vinegar and wine.
The oldest handmade shards found in Iran were naturally coarse and rough due to the mixing of sand and dried plants with the clay. It appears that Moshiri’s ceramics have these same qualities, which make salient this connection to ancient history. His rough glazing and superficial rustic decorations confer an ancient feeling on the work an ancient feeling, while at the same time allowing it to be an exquisite objet d’art.
The artist, in this piece which is an outstanding example of the series, has created a gigantic urn, which seems to be too large to be supported reliably. The urn is presented laid out like a collage on a textured surface with a minimal amount of color, leaving the background transparent in comparison to the foreground. The final result is that, instead of having a real example of pottery before us, we see a faded mirage of an archetypical precious ceramic urn that in places actually blends into the ground.
It should be added that Farhad Moshiri has many fans in the international art market. In 2007, he became the first Middle-Eastern artist to break the one million dollar mark. He once again achieved this mark in the 2013 Christie’s Dubai auction. In 2013 examples of his pottery sold for $422,500