Selection of Paintings
14 November -12 December, 2014

The fourth solo exhibition ever presented of paintings by the Iranian Master Aydin Aghdashloo (b.1940), the second in Iran, will premiere at Assar Art Gallery from November 14 through December 12, 2014. Aydin Aghdashloo: A Selection of Paintings showcases 12 paintings and a sculpture from the artist's most compelling series in the past forty years.

The exhibited works comprise both older pieces and recent ones, all perfect examples of two of Aghdashloo’s most acclaimed series, Memories of Destruction and Years of Fire and Snow.

Throughout his years as a painter, Aydin Aghdashloo, has been inspired by the cycle of life and death and loathed the inevitable process of conversion and destruction through which grandeur, confidence and beauty are annihilated. His artistic means to achieve this has always been the same: he first recreates a masterpiece from either Persian paintings and art objects or European Renaissance paintings in which he finds perfection and beauty. With the same painting and varnish techniques and with every detail and crack, he creates a masterly painting of his own before destroying it either visually, by painting the scratches, blindfolds, and wraps on his figures’ faces and head i.e., or materially by having the meticulously painted piece of art torn apart, crumpled or burnt.

Having mastered in both Persian and European painting techniques since his youth and being fond of the whole concept of renaissance throughout his life, Aghdashloo has continually focused on his most treasured genre of art that was employed during the Safavid Persia and the Renaissance Europe, mostly by Master Reza Abbassi, the court painter of the early Safavid Dynasty, and the Italian Sandro Botticelli. In his repetitive approach all through these years, he also takes immense pleasure in going through the same mystical and meditative process of creation his ancient counterparts went through, as if he reincarnates the soul of the old masters before travelling forth to the present and inserting his subjective judgment by demolishing the created perfection or placing it against dark and dreary backgrounds. And the cycle goes on eternally: the present moment becomes part of the past; and part of the future, in turn, becomes the new present…

The recurring theme in the work of Master Aydin Aghdashloo, has also been observed from cultural, historical and existential perspectives decoding the defaced portraits and demolished objects as a pejorative metaphor for the transformation of human conditions and the Persian culture that has been ravaged and bruised throughout history.

In the past 60 years, Aghdashloo’s vision, aesthetic language and means of creation have been the same. The only perceptible change in his latest collection is the more articulate and flowing painting technique he has employed with some lighter amount of destruction. His approach towards the cycle of life, however, has always been hedonistic and never nostalgic. To him, his aesthetic-painterly approach is best pictured in the poem by the renowned Persian poet of the 11th Century, Hakim Omar Khayyam:

A vase there is that Wisdom does adore
And imprints on its cheeks kisses galore
Behold the Master Potter of the World
Such a vase He makes, then breaks it on the floor *

To accentuate the destruction in a glorious yet ironic tone, Aghdashloo frames all of his paintings elaborately in renaissance style where the chief purpose of the framing was symbolic: to act as a shrine and elevate the image.

The exhibition also includes a wooden head and torso sculpture the artist made over a decade ago to use as a model for his paintings of wooden heads, turned exclusively to an exhibiting piece for this show.

Aydin Aghdashloo was born in Rasht, Iran, to Azerbaijani parents who fled to Iran after the invasion of Azerbaijan by the Soviet Red Army in 1921. He was admitted to the University of Tehran’s College of Fine Arts in 1959 but dropped out the program in the last year. His first and only solo exhibition in Iran was held at the Iran-America Society in 1975. He started his work as a graphic designer at the age of 16 in 1956 and created many important artistic produces including remarkable book covers until 2001 when he stopped. His fascination with the beauty of the past and his love for the ancient made him collect old paintings, calligraphy and antique objects, got him involved in restoration and lead him to performing extensive research on ancient and Islamic arts which all turned him to one of the prime international experts in the field. As an art historian, art critic, and tutor, Aydin Aghadshloo has over 400 printed essays, articles and scholarly publications on Iranian and International art, restoration, Persian Miniature, calligraphy as well as film reviews, essays, travelogues and interviews. He is also an influential teacher to numerous contemporary artists who have learned painting at his studio since 1980. Furthermore, Aghdashloo performed as a distinguished commentator and wrote, directed and produced documentaries and anchored for the Iranian National Radio and Television before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Of his other professional and educational activities, one should definitely mention his fundamental role in founding several museums in different cities of Iran, including the acclaimed Reza Abbassi Museum in Tehran in 1977, a museum dedicated to the ancient period from the 2nd Millennium BC to the early 20th Century, to which he was director for two years.

A fully illustrated catalogue in Persian and English accompanies the exhibition. For further information please visit or send email to

* Rubaiyat Khayyam, translated by Edward FitzGerald.