01 Painting, Middle East Artists, Hossein Kazemi’s Tar Player, with Footnotes, #46

Hossein Kazemi (Iranian, 1924-1996)
Tar Player, c. 1955

Oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 19¾in. (65 x 50cm.)
Private collection

A Tar is an Iranian long-necked string instrument, waisted lute family instrument, used by many cultures. This is in accordance with a practice common in Persian-speaking areas of distinguishing lutes on the basis of the number of strings originally employed. More on a TarA leading and pioneer Iranian Modern artist, Hossein Kazemi moved away from the academic style of Kamal Al-Molk following his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The present work, a charming portrait from Kazemi’s beginnings, reveals his experimentation with Cubism and his fascination by Western Modernist painting while hinting at his Persian heritage, notably with the traditional Iranian instrument held by the figure and the abstracted background. A rare and charming composition from his celebrated Cubist period, this work was gifted to a prominent and well-respected artist of his generation. Kazemi himself loved it so much, that he started another version of the same painting to keep in his personal collection, a work that unfortunately was left unfinished when the artist passed away in 1996. More on this painting


One of the most prominent Iranian artists, Hossein Kazemi began his career in 1940s by focusing on figurative art. Portraits of popular figures such as Sadegh Hedayat drew attention. However, Kazemi’s artistic style began evolving as he started experimenting with Cubism and became fascinated by Western Modernism.

In 1953, Kazemi moved to Paris and entered the ‘Ecole des Beaux Arts’. Aware of his Iranian heritage, Kazemi was eager to search for a style that would incorporate Persian elements and also be modern. As the artist’s work became more abstract, his inspiration by certain elements from Persian art remained evident. His interest in stylized forms from Ancient Persia, miniature paintings, ceramic tiles and manuscript illuminations are reflected on his canvases. Kazemi arrived at his desired composition and form, with its harmonious colours: a wide range of blues and violets, variations of semi-abstract objects such as stones and flowers and thick layers of pigment, which became his signature style. More on Hossein Kazemi

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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