Faramarz Pilaram (Iran, 1937-1982) Untitled (Alamat)

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Lot 40*
Faramarz Pilaram
(Iran, 1937-1982)
Untitled (Alamat)

Sold for £ 68,750 (US$ 86,996) inc. premium
Faramarz Pilaram (Iran, 1937-1982)
Untitled (Alamat)
ink, metallic paint and acrylic on paper
signed on the verso, executed circa 1960s
160 x 113cm (63 x 44 1/2in).


  • Provenance:
    The Artist's estate.

    "O Land of Karabala, where is Abbas the brave? O land of Karbala, where is the nightingale of my rose garden?" - Hussein Ibn Ali

    "My right hand, O God, has been severed from my body; O Lord, enable my other hand to reach the skirt of Husayn.." – Abbas Ibn Ali

    "Pilaram started his painting career almost simultaneously with Zenderoudi. Pilaram has a tendency for larger forms, and a preference for gold colouring" Karim Emami

    "The combination of calligraphic elements and architectural forms creates a unity in my mind that promotes an authentic Iranian identity" – Faramarz Pilaram 1975

    Sublime, overpowering and elaborate, Faramarz Pilaram's immense composition "Alamat", inspired by Iran's popular religious aesthetic, is a quintessential expression of the Saqqakhaneh school which dominated Iranian modernism in the latter part of the 20th century, and of which Pilaram was a seminal founding member.

    Captivated and inspired by the overt, spiritual imagery of the Iranian urban landscape. Pilaram and the exponents of the Saqqa Khaneh style, like Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, extracted the visual elements of popular religion in Iran and gave them a stylistic framework, synthesizing what once served as a heterogeneous ritual practice into a mature artistic language

    Whilst Zenderoudi's works focused on the intricate, calligrapho-geometric text based elements of religious talismans and mystical poetry, Pilaram instead concentrated on the more architectural, physical and grand scale ritual elements of Iranian religious pageantry. Pilaram's compositions capture the essence of Iran's passionate impulse for ritual, public expression.

    Key to the composition are towering forms resembling the tall imposing 'Alam's marched through Iranian streets during Shi'ite festivals. Pilaram punctuates these with the symbol of the hand of Abbas Ibn Ali ("Abul Fazl") the brother of Hussayn, whose hand was severed in his desperate attempt to bring water to his starving brother during the battle of Karbala. The loyalty and dedication of Abul Fazl is a key theme in Persian "passion plays" which re-enact scenes from Karabala and the Martyrdom of Hussein. By using these motifs, Pilaram depicts spiritual vignettes of Iranian society, demonstrating that traditions and rituals which have existed for centuries still form a fundamental bulwark of modern urban life.

    Pilaram attended Tehran's School of Decorative Arts for, founded in 1951 by Jalil Zia'pur and a group of artists. His teachers at the newly established school included Mahmoud Farschian who taught him traditional miniature painting. He received his diploma in 1959 and went on to continue his art education at the Faculty of Decorative Arts, graduating in 1965.

    Pilaram began exhibiting his paintings while still at college and was soon recognized as one of the most significant artists of his generation. In 1963, the journalist and art critic Karim Emami identified Pilaram "as the core exponent" of the Saqqā-ḵāna School of Art. Pilaram's career along with other Saqqā-ḵāna artists coincided with the opening of the Tehran Biennials. Their works went on to be celebrated in various national and international venues.

    Pilaram's works were included in almost all major Iranian modernist exhibitions (Afšār Mohājer, pp. 201-10). Pilaram, along with Mansur Qandriz, Ṣādeq Tabrizi, Morteza Momayyez, and Massoud Arabshahi played a pivotal role in the establishment of Tālār-e Iran in 1964
    Pilaram received his master's degree in painting and interior design from the Faculty of Decorative Arts in 1968. In 1971 he won a scholarship to study lithography and print in France for a year. He later held an exhibition in Galerie Cyrus at the Maison de l'Iran, Paris in 1972.

    Upon his return, he became an associate professor at Dāneškada-ye ʿelm o ṣanʿat. In 1974 Pilaram along with Marcos Grigorian, Morteza Momayyez, Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Nāmi (b. 1936), Massoud Arabshahi, Sirāk Malkoniān (b. 1931), and ʿAbd-al-Reżā Daryābeigi (b.1930) formed "Goruh-e naqqāšān-e āzād" (The group of independent artists).

    Pilaram was expelled from his teaching job at ʿElm o ṣanʿat University in 1981. Disappointed by the socio-political upheavals of the time, accused and disrespected by students whom he had cherished for years, Pilaram became extremely despondent in the final years of his life. In 1983, he died of a massive heart attack in Maḥmud Ābād, Māzandarān, and was quietly buried in the Behešt-e Zahrā Cemetery in Tehran. His untimely death was a severe blow to the Iranian art community.

    Pilaram was the recipient of several national and International awards including the 1962 Gold Medal at the 3rd Tehran Biennial, the Silver Medal at Venice Biennial at the same year, the First Prize from the Ministry of Art and Culture at the 4th Tehran Biennial 1964, and the First Prize for a Special Stamp issued by UNESCO for the"World Liberation of Hunger" in 1968.

    Pilaram's works are included in the collections of Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art; Tehran Fine Arts Museum; Jahān-namā Museum at Sāḥeb-qarānia Palace; Grey Art Collection at New York University; Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Queen Farah Pahlavi's Private Collection.
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