PILARAM, FARAMARZ

(1937-1983), a modernist artist, educator and among the founders of the Saqqā-ḵāna School of Art.

 

PILARAM, FARAMARZ (Farāmarz Pilārām, b. Tehran, 21 Farvardin 1316 Š./10 April 1937; d. Maḥmud Abād, Māzandarān, Šahrivar 1362 Š./September 1983), modernist artist, educator and among the founders of the Saqqā-ḵāna School of Art (FIGURE 1, FIGURE 2, FIGURE 3).

LIFE

The son of Aṣḡar Pilārām and Ṭubā Āqābeyg, Faramarz grew up in a middle class family with his two sisters, Farideh and Paridoḵt. The family lost three sons to early childhood diseases. Faramarz attended Tehran’s School of Decorative Arts for Boys (Honarestān-e honarhā-ye zibā-ye pesarān), founded in 1951 by Jalil Zia’pur (Jalil Żiāʾpur, 1920-1999) and a group of artists. His teachers at the newly established school included Mahmoud Farschian (Maḥmud Farščiān), who taught him traditional miniature painting. He received his diploma in 1959 and went on to continue his art education at the Faculty of Decorative Arts, (Dāneškada-e honarhā-ye tazʾini), graduating in 1965 (Afšār Mohājer, p. 193).

Pilaram began exhibiting his paintings while still at college and was soon recognized as one of the most significant artists of his generation. In 1963, the journalist and art critic Karim Emami wrote a review for Gilgamesh Gallery, owned by the Assyrian-Iranian artist Hannibal Alkhas (Hānnibāl Alḵāṣ, 1930-2010). Among the four artists, Emami identified Pilaram “as the core exponent” of the Saqqā-ḵāna School of Art (Daftari and Diba, p. 30; Tabrizi, 1999, pp. 88-89). Pilaram’s career along with other Saqqā-ḵāna artists coincided with the opening of the Tehran Biennials (Emami, 1987, pp. 641-42, Goudarzi, p. 142, Afšār Mohājer, p. 215). Their works went on to be celebrated in various national and international venues. Pilaram’s works were included in almost all major Iranian modernist exhibitions (Afšār Mohājer, pp. 201-10).

Pilaram, along with Mansur Qandriz, Ṣādeq Tabrizi (b.1939), Morteza Momayyez, and Massoud Arabshahi (Masʿud ʿArabšāhi, b. 1935), played a pivotal role in the establishment of Tālār-e Iran (Iran Gallery) in 1964 (Pākbāz, 2006, pp. 154-55; Tabrizi, 2005, pp. 26-27; Fouladvand, 2012a). He was also instrumental in the establishment of Iran’s first interior design firm in 1964, which was closed after the premature death of Qandriz at the age of thirty.

Pilaram received his master’s degree in painting and interior design from the Faculty of Decorative Arts in 1968. In the same year, two of his paintings were published in Daftarhā-ye rowzan, an artistic and literary journal. In 1971 he won a scholarship to study lithography and print in France for a year (“Be yād-e Pilārām,” p. 199). He later held an exhibition in Galerie Cyrus at the Maison de l’Iran, Paris in 1972. Upon his return he became an associate professor at Dāneškada-ye ʿelm o ṣanʿat (Ašrafi, p. 38). In 1974 Pilaram along with Marcos Grigorian, Morteza Momayyez, Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Nāmi (b. 1936), Massoud Arabshahi, Sirāk Malkoniān (b. 1931), and ʿAbd-al-Reżā Daryābeigi (b.1930) formed “Goruh-e naqqāšān-e āzād” (The group of independent artists; Pākbāz, 2006, p. 451). They held several significant group exhibitions for the next four years, including “Ābi” (Blue) and “Gonj o gostareh” (Volume and environment; Daftari and Diba, pp. 69-71, Fouladvand, 2012b; “Bāzsāsi,” pp. 6-7; Pākbāz 2006, p.  451). Pilaram married his cousin Homā Ḏarrāti in 1974. The couple lived together for nine years and had three children, Ānāhitā, Negār, and ʿAli.

Pilaram was expelled from his teaching job at ʿElm o ṣanʿat University in 1981. Disappointed by the socio-political upheavals of the time, accused and disrespected by students whom he had cherished for years, Pilaram became extremely despondent in the final years of his life (Kalāntari, pp. 22-32; FIGURE 4). In 1983, he died of a massive heart attack in Maḥmud Ābād, Māzandarān, and was quietly buried in the Behešt-e Zahrā Cemetery. His untimely death was a severe blow to the Iranian art community (Kiāras, 2013).

With the upsurge in the monetary value of Iranian modernist trendsetters in recent years, some prominent auction houses have had to withdraw Pilaram’s works from their sale due to forgery concerns, pending additional research (Seifi, 2013).

WORK

Pilaram was among the first group of Iranian artists who focused on Iranian heritage and mythical motifs, making him one of the founders of the Saqqā-ḵāna movement. (Pākbāz, 1974, p. 33, idem, 2006, p. 307, Emami, 1965, pp. 46-48; idem, Exhibition Catalogue, Borghese Gallery, Tehran, 1966; FIGURE 5).

In the 1960s, the appeal of concepts such as “national” and “Iranian identity” contributed, largely, to the popularity of the Saqqā-ḵāna School of Art (Yarshater, 1979, pp. 363-77). Neither the passive recipients of the European modernism, nor the simple imitators of local narratives, Saqqā-ḵāna artists were well informed by Western tradition and yet turned to ethnicity and popular culture within a new aesthetic context (Fouladvand, p. 36; Issa, pp. 17, 19; Keshmirshekan, 2005, pp. 607-30). Pilram’s early works of the 1960s explore motifs from Shi’ite popular art and flat geometric forms to calligraphy and illumination (Diba, p. 58; Goudarzi, pp. 104, 211; Afšār Mohājer, p. 198; FIGURE 6).

Pilaram’s works incorporated royal blue, gold, and silver on paper, celebrating tribal arts and religious iconography (FIGURE 7). His early works were characterized by a distinct method of using stamps (originally used as signature), and decorative ornaments in a repetitive form. Pilaram’s use of calligraphic forms in his later modern paintings, distinguishes him as a pioneering figure in calligraphic painting (Naqqāši-ḵaṭ; Tanāvoli, p. 6), who has played an instrumental role in popularizing the potential of script as an element to create modern works (Nāmi, p. 7; FIGURE 8, FIGURE 9).

Pilaram used bold and expressive colors along with abstracted scripts to epitomize fresh modernist compositions. He was among a handful number of innovators who manipulated traditional paintings and calligraphy, as raw material, to transform the elegant Persian letters into ‘nonsensical writing’. As such, “in a 1972 work by Faramarz Pilaram the dancerly forms never resolve into readable text” (Robin Cembalest, Artnews online, 2013).

In 1975, twenty-six of Pilaram’s paintings were shown at Iran-America Society. “The combination of calligraphic elements and other forms create a unity in my mind that creates the reality of my painting... I am searching for ways to promote an authentic Iranian art.” (Pilaram, Exhibition Catalogue, 1975)

While Mansoureh Hosseini (1926-2012) incorporated Kufic inscriptions and Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (b. 1937) used fragmented scripts, Pilaram abstracted the Persian calligraphy and brought it into play in his paintings. Along with such calligrapher painters as Mohammad Ehsai (Moḥammad Eḥṣāi, b.1939) and Reza Mafi (Reżā Māfi, 1943-1982), he deconstructed the traditional script from its recognizable shape and gave it an individualistic fresh approach. Reminiscent of Ehsai, who kept many of the formal esthetic aspects intact, giving an architectural approach to script, Pilaram focused on rhythmic repetition and the phonetic aspects, de-familiarizing calligraphic elements to further collapse the traditional formalism. Pilaram’s de-valued words suspended recognition of the traditional language and suggested various innovative visual alternatives. His works distorted the margins between calligraphy and typography even more (Fouladvand, 2008; FIGURE 10).

Javād Mojābi, the art critic and poet, considers three major periods in Pilaram’s artistic career: figurative, decorative and calligraphic, although he regards calligraphy as a “decorative element” in Pilaram’s paintings. As held by Mojābi, what Pilaram achieved, was to take the enjoyment of calligraphy and expand it further into abstracted painterly shapes, where form and color came to align to create fresh new movements (Mojābi, 1991, p. 81). Pilaram’s large-scale sculptures inspired by nastaʿliq script (see CALLIGRAPHY [continued]) made him one of the most important modernist artists before the Revolution (Kāšefi, p. 84). His recurring rhythmic forms are informed by “the phonetic aspects of Persian calligraphy while his three-dimensional wooden sculptures, in particular, are the peak of his career and his utmost dynamic works (Mojābi 2010, p. 7; Afšār Mohājer, pp. 201-06; FIGURE 11, FIGURE 12).

Pilaram was the recipient of several national and International awards including the 1962 Gold Medal at the 3rd Tehran Biennial, the Silver Medal at Venice Biennial at the same year, the First Prize from the Ministry of Art and Culture at the 4th Tehran Biennial 1964, and the First Prize for a Special Stamp issued by UNESCO for the “World Liberation of Hunger” in 1968. Pilaram’s works are included in the collections of Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art; Tehran Fine Arts Museum; Jahān-namā Museum at Sāḥeb-qarānia Palace; Grey Art Collection at New York University; Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Queen Farah Pahlavi’s Private Collection.


MAJOR SOLO EXHIBITIONS

1962

 - Farhang Hall, Tehran

1966

 - Borghese Gallery, Tehran

1967

 - Seyhoun Gallery, Tehran

1968

 - Negār Gallery, Tehran

1969

 - Seyhoun Gallery, Tehran

1972

 - Galerie Cyrus, Maison de I’Iran, Paris

1975

 - Iran America Society, Tehran

1976

-  Šahr Gallery, Tehran

2009-2010

- “Āṯār e Farāmarz Pilārām (A Retrospective), Gallery 66, Tehran


SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

1962

- The Venice Biennial
- Third Tehran Painting Biennial
- Iranian Contemporary Painters, Le Havre, France

1963

- Iranian Contemporary Painters, Monaco

1964

- Fourth Tehran Painting Biennial
- Iranian Contemporary Painters, Tel Aviv

1965 

- Iran-Italy Cultural Center, Tehran

1966

- Tālār-e Iran, Tehran
- Iranian Contemporary Painters, Montreal
 - Consortium of Petroleum Exporting Companies, Tehran

1968

- Iranian Modern Art, Columbia University, New York
- International Human Rights, Iran-e Bāstan Museum, Tehran

1969

- Iranian Contemporary Painters, Week of Iran, France
- Pan-American Exhibit, Washington, D.C

1970

- Iranian Contemporary Painters, Turin, Italy
- Iranian Contemporary Painters, Milan, Italy

1971

- Iranian Contemporary Calligraphy, Paris

1972

- European Painters, Athens

1973

- International Painters (47 nationalities), Cité des Arts, Paris
- International Exhibition of Art, Tehran

1975

- “Ābi,” Taḵt-e Jamšid Gallery, Tehran
- “Gonj o gostareh” (Volume and environment,” Iran-America Society, Tehran

1976

- “Gonj o gostareh-2” (Volume and environment II), Sāmān Gallery, Tehran

 2001

- “Iranian Contemporary Art,” Barbican Center, London

 2002

- “Between Word and Image: Modern Iranian Visual Culture,” Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York

2013

- Iran Modern, Asia Society, New York
- Basel International Art Fair


Bibliography (online sources accessed 30 July 2014):

“Ābi” (Blue), Exhibition Catalogue, Tehran, 1975.

Hādi Ašrafi, “Az Ṭarrāhi be ṭarrāhi: gozāreši az namāyešgāh e Farāmarz Pilārām,” Rastāḵiz-e Javānān, 82, Tehran, Esfand 1355 Š./March 1976, p. 38.

Kāmrān Afšār-Mohājer, “Honarmand-e Irāni va modernism,” Našr-e dānešgāh-e honar, Tehran, 1384 Š./2005, pp. 193, 198-199, 201-6, 210-211, 215.

Raḥmān Aḥmadi-Maleki, “Talaši barā-ye ẓohur-e yek maktab-e melli,” Faṣl-nāma-ye honarhā-ye tajassomi, 13, Šahrivar 1380 Š./Sept 2001, pp. 31-35.

“Bāzsāsi-e dastāvardhā-ye honarmandān-e ḡarbi dar Goruh-e āzād,” Āyandegān, 24 Āḏar 1354 Š./15 December 1975, pp. 6-7.

“Be yād-e Pilārām: naqqāš  o ḵaṭṭāt-e mo’āṣer,”  Faṣl-nāma-ye honar 5, Zemestān–Bahār 1362-1363 Š./Winter-Spring 1984,  p. 199.

Robin Cembalest, The Other Modernism: Rediscovering Iran’s Avant-garde,” ARTnews, at http://www.artnews.com/2013/02/07/the-other-modernism-rediscovering-irans-avant-garde/, 7 February 2013.

Catalogue of the Third Tehran Painting Biennial, Tehran, 1962.

Catalogue of the Fourth Tehran Painting Biennial, Tehran, 1964.

Fereshteh Daftari, “Redefining Modernism: Pluralist Art Before The 1979 Revolution,” in Iran Modern, ed. Fereshteh Daftari and Layla Diba, Asia Society, New York, 2013, p. 30.
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Idem, “Modern Persian Artists,” in Ehsan Yarshater, ed. Iran Faces the Seventies, New York, 1971, pp. 349-63.

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p. 36.

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Marcos Grigorian, Biennal-e Tehran, First Tehran Biennial, Exhibition Catalogue, introduction by Ehsan Yarshater, Abyaz Palace (Kāḵ-e Abyaż), 1337 Š./April 1958, pp. 1-9.

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Behzād Ḥātam, “Ābi,” Tamāšā, 65, Ordibehešt 1356 Š./April 1975, pp. 7-24.

Rose Issa, Iranian Contemporary Art, London, 2001, pp. 17, 19, 134.

Idem, Exhibition Catalogue, Curve Gallery, Barbican Center, London, 2001.

Parviz Kalāntari, ” Pilārām, nā-ārām az gardeš-e ayyām,” in Nietzsche na! faqaṭ begu mašd Esmāʿil (Not Nietzsche; just say Mašd Esma’il), Tehran, 2004, pp. 22-32.

Jalāl-al-din Kāšefi,  “Talfiq-e ʿanāṣor-e hamgen dar kālbod-e šekl o rang,” Faṣl-nāma-ye honar, 15, Tehran, Bahār 1367 Š./Spring 1988, pp. 83-84.

Hamid Keshmirshekan, “Saqqā-kāna ii. School of Art,” at Encyclopædia Iranica Online, 2009.

Idem, “Neo-Traditionalism and Modern Iranian Painting: The Saqqa-ḵāna School in the 1960s,” Iranian Studies 38/4, 2005, pp. 607-30.

Dāriush Kiāras, Negāhi be zendegi va honar-e Farāmarz Pilārām, Majjalla-ye Tandis, at http://www.seemorgh.com/culture/2284/93728.html.

Javād Mojābi, “Ẓerāfat-e musiqā’i-e ḵaṭṭ dar negāh-e Pilārām,” Farhitegān, 271, 18 Ordibehešt 1389 Š./8 May 2010, p. 7.

Idem, interview with Šokā Saḥrāi “Pilārām va ḵoṭuṭ-e namādin,” at  http://www.jadidonline.com/story/26102010/dr/faramarz_pilaram 26 April 2010

Idem, “Naqqāšāni ke dustešān dāšteh-am. Gardoun, Bahār 1370 Š./Spring 1991, p. 81.

Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Nāmi, “Negāh be sonnathā” (on the occasion of Pilaram’s Gallery 66 Retrospective), Farhitegān, 271, 18 Ordibehešt 1389 Š./10 May 2010, p. 7.

Rueen Pākbāz, Naqqaši moʿāṣer-e Iran, Tehran, 1974, p. 33.

Idem, ”Naqqāši, paykareh sāzi, gerāfik,” in Dāʾerat-al maʿāref-e honar (Encyclopedia of art), Tehran, 2006, pp. 154-55, 307, 451.

Farmarz Pilaram, Exhibition Catalogue, Iran-America Society, Tehran, 1975.

Idem, “Na az har ḵˇānandeh tarāneh-i,” Rastāiz-e javānān, 100, Tir 1356 Š./July 1977, pp. 2-21.

Idem, Exhibition Catalogue, Borghese Gallery, Tehran, 1 Esfand 1345 Š./20 February 1967.

Šabnam Seifi, “Honar-e Irāni dar Christies: record-šekan ya taqqallobi,” at radiozamaneh online, http://www.radiozamaneh.com/64219#.UoVNmmRhmPQ, 2013.

Ṣādeq Tabrizi, “Saqqā-ḵāna az ānjā pā gereft,” Faṣl-nāma-ye honarhā-ye tajassomi, 6, Tābestān-Pāʾiz 1378 Š./Summer-Fall 1999, pp. 88-99.

Idem, “Peydāyeš-e Tālār-e Irān: tavallod-e maktab-e Saqqā-ḵāna,” in Ḵolāṣa maqālāt-e hamāyeš-e honar-e modern-e Irān (abstracts of the Conference on Modern Iranian Art), Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, 2005, pp. 26-27.

Michel Tapie, Pilaram Exhibition Catalogue, Galerie Cyrus, Paris, 1972.

Parviz Tanāvoli, “Yek ḵošnevis-e qābel,” Farhitegān 271, 18 Ordibehešt 1389 Š./8 May 2010, p. 6.

Ehsan Yarshater, “Contemporary Persian Painting,” in R. Ettinghausen and E. Yarshater, Highlights of Persian Art, New York, 1979, pp. 363-77.

(Hengameh Fouladvand)

Originally Published: August 1, 2014

Last Updated: August 6, 2014

Cite this entry:

Hengameh Fouladvand, “Pilaram, Faramarz,” Encyclopædia Iranica Online,  available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/pilaram-faramarz (accessed on 1 August 2014).