Charles Hossein Zenderoudi

  • Born 1937 in Tehran, Iran

Charles Hossein Zenderoudi is considered a pioneer of Iranian modern art. In 1960, while still an art student at Tehran School of Fine Arts, Zenderoudi inaugurated, Sagha Khaneh, a pictorial movement that would revive the spirit of Eastern gestural writing. The movement is named for water dispensers around Tehran that are decorated with popular illuminations or verses from the Koran. Sagha Khaneh sought to incorporate Iranian national, religious, and folkloric elements. Zenderoudi soon received recognition, winning awards at the second Tehran Biennial and the Venice Biennale (both 1960), the São Paolo Bienal (1961), and the Paris Biennale (1962). In 1961 he moved to Paris, where he developed his calligraphic style. While his early works remained figurative with patterns of ornamental, calligraphic, and symbolic elements—such as Alyad (The Hand; 1959) or Alshshams w al'asad (The Sun and the Lion; 1960)—his later paintings focused on the abstract qualities of Persian calligraphy. Zenderoudi once explained his goal of global communication: “Men the world over are identical and can all read my work. What matters is to achieve a harmony between the person who created it and the spectator.” In 1972 his illustrated Qur’an won the UNESCO annual award for most beautiful book.