Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art / Arab & Iranian


Fateh Moudarres

signed and dated 1966

oil on canvas
125 by 224.5cm.; 49 1/4 by 88 3/8 in.
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Acquired directly from the artist by the previous owner
Private Collection, Syria (acquired directly from the above)

Catalogue Note

"The continuum of memory and tradition in the region links ancient history and symbols with the volatile political events of modern times. Solemn figures adorned in ancient headdress, typical of Moudarres' work, portray a sense of loss, exile, and oppression."

(Salwa Mikdadi, "West Asia: Ancient Legends, Modern Idioms", in: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York 2000, n.p.)

This is one of the finest of Moudarres' works to come to public auction, painted on a grand scale it is both moving and impressive.

Profoundly affected by the murder of his father at the age of two, Moudarres' canvases address many of the issues that he experienced in his youth: intimidation, as a result of his father's absence from a patriarchal society, poverty and hardship. Naturally the boy held a deep regard for his mother who provided him with all the security and strength she could. As a result the family unit features in most of his works; figures cluster together forming a tightly knit and indomitable throng, as they do here.

The stylised figures recall clearly the aesthetics of the ancient civilisations of the region. Many artists of the Middle East borrow their figurative style from antiquity; Moudarres resurrects the Sumerian and Babylonian statues with their domed heads and exaggerated eyes.

The rural environment held particular significance for Moudarres, thanks to the fact that he was obliged to migrate to the city during the agricultural crisis of the 1960s, and his palette and imagination return him to the deep rusts and ochres of pastoral Syria. This nostalgia permeates all his works, whether mountain scenes or peasant life they are often executed in this particular colour range, and take on a distance, as of memories, in soft-focus through his signature blurred and indistinct lines.

Too often Moudarres' work has been perceived as a decorative portrayal of rural Syria, when the artist is concerned with so much more, from personal issues of loss, to political statement and cultural identity.

Contemporary Art / Arab & Iranian