Marco Gregorian is the first Iranian modern artist who applied earth and cob to his work. Given his concerns regarding application of such media, Gregorian is considered one of the pioneers of fresh experiments in Iranian modernism. Marco makes use of unconventional dimensions of canvas and an innovative method to present curious, fine, and creative views of an Iranian painter of the second half of the 20th century – 1960s. Postmodern art movements, including Pop Art and Minimalism, influenced some Iranian artists during this period that coincided with final days of Modernism in the US. They employed new media and compositions to demonstrate innovations in Iranian modern painting. In addition to experiments with Pop Art, a major quality of Marco Gregorian’s art is approaching a kind of Minimalism that uses cob as a new medium to create perspective. Such works of Gregorian initially appeared in early 1960s during an exhibition held at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA. Then a selection of these works was exhibited at Tehran’s Iran-America Society (1971) and a little later during an exhibition of Azad Group. From then on, we are witnessing Gregorian’s works of earth and cob in various exhibitions in Iran and abroad.
Early 1960s holds a special significance in the study of Iranian modern painting, of which the Saqqakhaneh School of art was among the most important ones. Although many artists and ideologies fall within the category of Saqqakhaneh, a number of other Iranian painters, including Marco Gregorian, experimented with alternative modes of visual expression. He had a spiritual perspective on earth, coupled with an oriental vivacious spirit which he personally considered a new birth. Terrestrial earth turns heavenly in his work. By producing a variety of textures in this group of works, Gregorian provides a joyful perception of the medium, diminishing the geometry of the work to simple forms. The present example shows a rough, porous surface juxtaposed by a soft surface of sifted earth placed in a projected clay frame. The essence of the work here can be summed up in one word: earth.
Mental challenges of Marco Gregorian with regard to the basic material of the work, its projection, and quality of the surface, created a new wave in Iranian modern art in a way that his experiments with application of cob and uneven surfaces later appeared in the work of artists, including Parviz Kalantari and Gholam Hossein Nami. Those works of Marco produced with cob exceptionally cross the boundaries of painting compared to works of artists of his generation, introducing a new nature and definition of this art form with the use of new materials.