Lot 29
  • 29

Farhad Moshiri

70,000 - 90,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Farhad Moshiri
  • VN
  • signed, titled and dated Farhad Moshiri 2003; signed, titled and dated in Farsi on the reverse 
  • oil, acrylic and glue on canvas
  • 167 by 132cm.; 65 3/4 by 52in.


Kashya Hildebrand, Zurich
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2008

Catalogue Note

Drawing inspiration from one of the most innate aspects of Middle Eastern culture, the talisman, this work is a true fusion of tradition and modernity in contemporary Iranian culture. Enchanting in its own unique manner, Farhad Moshiri's VN derives its power from the cadenced undulation of his large calligraphic collage.

Easily discernible to the Middle Eastern eye, the canvas clearly draws upon the supernatural relationship with numerology, a notion that still remains in many provincial pockets of the region, and which thrived until the late 19th century. The recognition of magical forces in Islamic culture manifested itself in many ways, from magic bowls inscribed with numerals and symbols that would cure the patient if he drank from it to talismanic shirts worn beneath armour that protected the soldier in battle.

For centuries mystic thinkers of the Islamic world pondered the hidden significance of letters, giving them not only a phonetic value but also an arithmetic one. These arithmetic values gave much room for interpretation, for predicting the future, for finding divinity in the written word and for many other purposes. The abjad system was a codification of the Arabic alphabet that applied numerical values to each letter and was used on scientific instruments, and for talismanic codes and magical operations.

Characteristic of Farhad Moshiri’s oeuvre, the artist magnifies his calligraphy to an immense scale,  isolating and highlighting his numerology; something that would have often been compositionally embedded in earlier Islamic objects. In this series featuring numbers and letters overlaid and intertwined to form either an abstract design or a meaningful pattern depending on the perspective, Moshiri crafts a nearly celestial optical illusion yet one imbued with cultural commentary.