Created mostly during the COVID19 global crisis (from 2019 to 2021), one might find it almost ironic that “Iranshahr” brims with figures moving en masse. Literally meaning “Persepolis”, “Iranshahr” consists of medium to large-scale acrylic paintings by self-taught Iranian artist Ali Saeedi. Each hierarchical scene is reminiscent of a Baroque tableau, made of countless tall arabesque figures engaged in what seems like a grand procession, moving through a pantheon of long stairs, pillars, high arches, and raised platforms.///
Every detail is improvised swiftly using gestures made with the artist’s fingers over a wet canvas. The horizon line is at its highest point often revealing glimpses of mountains in distance, and everything suggests monumentality coupled with timelessness. The artist himself offers a strikingly humble and simple explanation for his sophisticated parallel universe of dancing crowds, angels, and prophetic figures: “my soul narrates a new story to my fingers every day, every moment from a parallel universe, abandoned in nowhere. Painting is a necessity for me and I can’t resist all those dancing forms, shapes, and colors deep down in me.”
One question still lingers: amid these critical times, which vision does Ali Saeedi’s “Iranshahr” represent: a utopian world or a hopeless dystopia?