Fully versed in the discourse of modern art, Farhad Moshiri is also a consummate contemporary artisan. His work ranges from the ironically conceptual to the candidly beautiful, often within one piece.
Moshiri’s show at Artspace focuses on his well-known series of grand canvases depicting antique vases and bowls. Fragile yet monumental, the works are lovingly created – the textured layers of paint worked to create ‘authentic’ cracks of age and significance – and inscribed with flowing calligraphic declarations. But the statements are no tributes to mystical Persian poets or verses from the Quran. Instead, Moshiri turns for inspiration, as he does frequently in his work, to the alluring stuff of pop culture – in this case, Iranian love songs.
These works, as much as Moshiri’s more obviously tongue-in-cheek forays in installation, cut through to the heart of debates that consume significant artists the world over. On show in the Middle East, Moshiri’s work emits a particular resonance. The paintings, authoritative in size and stature, have a gentle subtext; they toy with the viewer, but make him or her complicit in the joke. They play with notions of authenticity, exotica and with the reverence accorded the ‘proper’ versions of the past. Following his inclusion in the Sharjah Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2003, this is Moshiri’s first solo outing in the United Arab Emirates.