Themes of gender and social inequality are predominant in Ahmad Morshedloo’s work. In Untitled, he presents these with an introspective grace in an intensely detailed study of a woman reclining. The quiet simplicity of his subject becomes the focus of expansive meditation as his dense cross-hatching and delicately tangled gestures transform the surface into a microcosm of wonder, infusing his cold clammy palette with a sense of secluded energy. Extreme foreshortening is one of the most difficult technical skills in drawing and Morshedloo uses this forced perspective to create a hesitancy or confusion within this image, which initially appears alien and abstract. The black mass at the centre of the panel is her hair, which should always be kept covered; according to Iranian tradition it is a source of female power.
Morshedloo’s canvases are disarming in their unassuming beauty. His paintings of people possess a mesmerising quality transforming the transient scenes of everyday street life to eternal moments of contemplation. Morshedloo develops his images with understated compositional devices which lend a sense of careful balance, both visually and psychologically. In Untitled, he uses the contrast of both tone and subject matter to create an underlying tension. The black robed women float weightlessly against the sun-bleached background, the abstracted negative space of their drapery forming a surreal juxtaposition to the men’s leisurely nakedness. The canvas is cropped at the left edge with a trompe l’oiel wall which does not fit as part of the scene but rather operates as a metaphorical barrier, the hooked chain which hangs on it symbolising oppression and temptation.
In documenting contemporary Iranian society, Morshedloo considers his role as an artist as a tremendous responsibility and he approaches his paintings with both humility and criticality. Central to his practice is the notion of the subjectivity of the artist’s vision. In Untitled his use of a variety of painterly styles insinuates both the public attitude towards and the personal consciousness of his subjects, with the man realistically represented in the centre, surrounded by women in various states of dissolve. Morshedloo articulates their faces with astonishing faithfulness giving each figure a sense of individual strength and dignity.