War and Peace

Ardeshir Mohassess Iranian

Not on view

Iranian-American artist Ardeshir Mohassess was a celebrated satirist of contemporary life and politics in Iran. War and Peace is an exemplary work that combines many of the motifs and themes that he returned to consistently over the course of his career. At the same time, the work’s large size, incredible detail, and its rare and engaging use of color set it apart from the rest of the artist’s oeuvre. A figure at the upper left-hand corner dominates the scene. He appears in the guise of a Qajar king. In particular, his physical features, as well as his costume and pose are reminiscent of portraits of Shah Fath ‘Ali Shah Qajar (1769–1834). The Shah’s posthumous image combined a reputation for debauchery and the irresponsible pursuit of pleasure with his failures on the battlefield and the weakened state of the empire at the time of his death. As if to confirm this characterization of the Qajar king, the figures depicted in miniature across the work are engaged in either acts of courtly entertainment and debauchery or battle and bloodshed.

War and Peace, Ardeshir Mohassess (Iranian, Rasht 1938–2008 New York), Oil pastel, ink and graphite on paper

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