Fondation Behnam Bakhtiar Interview With Salar Ahmadian



Born in Iran in 1957, Salar Ahmadian's works, known for their unique use of Persian calligraphy, have been exhibited in Iran, North America, Europe, and the Persian Gulf region. They have also been sold at Christie's auctions, as well as Art Expo sales in Kuwait.


FBB. Tell us a bit about yourself, Salar.


I was born in Dezful in 1957. Even as a child, I was experimenting with drawing and calligraphy, and later developed a strong interest in sculpture. During my last two years in university, I won two consecutive first prizes in an art competition in Ramsar, and caught the attention of Manouchehr Ganji (head of Tehran University’s art department at the time, also in charge of overseeing scholarships), who gave me the opportunity to study in Florence. At the same time, I enrolled in a calligraphy programme on the side, practising the nasta’liq script with Master Amirkhani, and the shekasteh script with Master Kaboli, and was granted awards of the highest degree. Later on, in 1982, I went to Montreal to further pursue my studies. Since then, I’ve had over 100 exhibitions in cities around the world such as Los Angeles, New York, Washington, San Francisco, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Cologne, Lausanne, Sydney, Melbourne, Kuwait, Dubai, and Tehran. I’ve also participated in high-calibre auctions, including those held by Christie’s. Right now, I’m working on some paintings for the Sharjah Calligraphy and Florence biennials, as well as the Contemporary Istanbul art fair.


FBB. How would you classify your artistic ‘style’?

I’ve always wanted to be an innovator, which is why I’ve constantly tried to do things differently. After doing much
research, I learned about different artistic styles and techniques employed in the 50s, namely expressionism, the abstractionism of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, the pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, minimalism, and conceptual art. Among these various styles and artists, Pollock and Rothko had the greatest influence on me. Pollock used to throw paint on his canvases, and in a similar way, I paint words and letters in a calligraphic style; ultimately, I created a completely unique style that appealed to Westerners and Easterners alike. New shapes and forms in cheery colours and large sizes are some of the features that make this style so special.


PGCF. When did you first start writing calligraphy, and how long did it take for you to master the art?

I’ve been interested in calligraphy since I was a child, and as a kid, used to practice rigorously. Later on, I combined calligraphy with painting and forged a new style that was in accord with Western aesthetics and notions of beauty. You could say it was a mix of pop art and abstract expressionism, and nasta’liq and tholth calligraphy; artistically speaking, one might consider it an example of postmodernism, as postmodernist painters went against the conventions of modernist art, and looked at things in a new way.


FBB. What are you working on at the moment, and what sorts of projects are you interested in pursuing?

Right now, I’m painting large-scale faces composed of calligraphy and pencil shavings, some of which I’ve shared with you.


FBB. Who are some of your favourite artists?


Among the old Iranian masters, Soltan Mohammad and Reza Abbasi, and among the contemporary ones, Parviz Tanavoli, Mohammad Ehsai, Hossein Zenderoudi, Reza Derakhshani, and Afshin Pirhashemi.


FBB. And musicians?


I love Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Majid Derakhshani, and Saeed Farajpouri. When it comes to Western music, I enjoy Anton Webern, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Gustav Mahler, and Leonard Cohen. I particularly like Cohen’s song, Bird on the Wire.


FBB. What paintings are you working on at the moment?


I’m working on a series of pieces I’ll be exhibiting in Dubai, Kuwait, Istanbul, and Paris.


FBB. Where can your works be viewed and purchased?


You can either send an email to, visit my website at, and/or view my Facebook and Instagram pages.




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