Lot Details

"This series is the result of two years of thought, research and travel. It is a reflection of a world where the word 'terrorist' is thrown about thoughtlessly. What is a terrorist? What are the origins of a terrorist and in an international context who defines 'terrorism'? The West, with its personal definition of terrorism, gives itself the right to take over a country, while in the Middle East the West is clearly accused of being a full-fledged terrorist. In exploring these questions, I portrayed the people in whom I have the most faith: my mother and sisters." -Khosrow Hassanzadeh

Khosrow Hassanzadeh is one of the leading contemporary artists from the Middle East. This major mixed media painting belongs to the artist's celebrated and critically acclaimed "Terrorist Series" of works in which he simultaneously examines the accusing gaze of the West and also reclaims the right of self-representation that his country discourages. The Series began with a major four piece group of paintings titled "Terrorist" (2004). In the four-piece work Hassanzadeh portrays himself and his family members against a backdrop with images referring to their personal religious beliefs, accompanied by labels describing each portrayed "terrorist" with characteristics such as nationality, religious denomination, and personal history. The artist continues to create large-scale works from this Series, such as this major example from 2007, one of his largest and most visually and compositionally sophisticated works to-date, loading the canvas with an intense combination of portraiture, calligraphic texts with ornate Islamic patterns, colors and dress filling the picture plane.

The emphasis on Islam in the Terrorist series reflects Hassanzadeh's development as an artist whose career became increasingly tied with the Euro-American art world and its perceptions of Iran as a radical Muslim country. After a short training at Tehran's Art Academy, Hassanzadeh made his first paintings in the mid-1980s. International recognition came only in 1999 when his War series, a gloomy diary of his memories as a volunteer soldier during the Iran-Iraq war, was exhibited at the Diorama Arts Centre in London. The exhibition proved to be a turning point in Hassanzadeh's career. His work, increasingly addressing an outside observer, represented by his Western audiences, ultimately changed orientation. He began to observe Iranian society with the eye of an outsider. It is at this point that Islam made its way into the paintings of Hassanzadeh. While his early works contained no references to Islam or Muslim society whatsoever, the newer series were loaded with them, with the Terrorist Series the apex of this focus.

Khosrow Hassanzadeh was born in Tehran, Iran in 1963. Represented and exhibited by the world's top galleries, including Leila Heller Gallery, NY, US and ARNDT Gallery, Berlin. Khosrow Hassanzadeh has had solo shows in Amsterdam, Beirut, Dubai, London, Phnom Penh, and Tehran. His works are held by the most elite Museum and Private Collections in the world, including the British Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran, and the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland amongst many others. The artist lives and works in Iran.

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Publication: Shatanawi, Mirjam, Tehran Studio Works. "The Art of Khosrow Hassanzadeh". London: Saqi Books, 2007.
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  • The Artist. Silk Road Gallery, Iran. Private Collection, Switzerland.
  • Pickup Location: Switzerland
  • Shipping Dimensions: 122 x 85.43 in. (309.88 x 216.99 cm.)
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Note that this "Terrorist Series" painting is larger than all auction comparables and that this sale marks the first time the work has been offered at Auction.