However, as Maleki himself has been at pains to point out, he is not an artist whose central preoccupation revolves around national or religious concerns. “I don’t know what my works are talking about,” he says, “but I can point out that I am not one of those painters who believes in a national identity. For a long time now, and for many reasons, I have dropped these sorts of tendencies. Increasingly I like the representative, and the work of figurative Western painters – though I disagree with dividing the world’s culture into East and West.” (Tehran, 2011).
Living and working in Iran today, Farshid Maleki is one of Iran’s most respected art critics and university professors. He has exhibited widely in his life-time – at Thomas Erben Gallery in NY, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde in Dubai, and at a number of Tehran galleries. His work is held in the permanent collection of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art and he is considered a master painter of his time, as well as a valued mentor to a generation of younger artists. With over 30 years of professional practice and an illustrious career teaching both in Tehran and Isfahan, Maleki can be considered one of the major influences of the Iranian art scene of his time. His most recent expressive works are inspired by the characters and situations of daily life, though in his own unique contexts and sometimes distorted tableaux. Describing his fluid, intense practice, and his most recent series of strange human figures in a pseudo-abstract setting, Maleki draws parallels with one’s ever-shifting circle of friends, family and acquaintances that flit through the social channels. “People come and go,” he says, “Now they’re here, now they’re not. In general I depict the chaos in my own mind.” He uses a mixture of magic markers, ink, gouache, acrylic and coloured pencils to create tangled settings and fantasmagorical compositions.
Sotheby’s is proud to offer a singular work from Maleki’s expressive series. With strong lines guiding the eye to absorb the shape of a Picasso-esque supplicant figure, this work’s dark setting and impactful perspective draws the viewer to imagine a universe in which a stylised human head is raised towards the heavens and the hands are cupped in a gesture of prayer and hope. An attractive and sophisticated palette of hues reminds us that Maleki is not only a master of the expressive and gestural, but also an alchemist of colours.
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