Shahriar Ahmadi (born 1979 in Kamiaran, Iran) studied painting at the Art University in Tehran, and is regarded as one of the most distinct representatives of a new generation of painters in Iran. From an early age on, Ahmadi was drawn towards book and miniature painting that had shaped the Persian tradition of art for centuries, just as oil painting had done in the West. In his works Ahmadi draws on certain formal and mimetic principles of this genre but, at the same time, in terms of size and painting technique, transposes it in accordance with the standards of modern and contemporary art in the West.
Ahmadi derives inspiration from Iranian secret doctrines and Gnosticism, and the poetic and epic writings that correspond to these – for example, those of the still highly revered and much read mediaeval Sufi mystic Rumi, who saw in love the driving force of the universe. Ahmadi’s virtuoso style of painting, which is reminiscent of abstract gestical expressionism, succeeds in capturing the mysterious and poetic qualities of such material. His paintings are powerful and light-footed at the same time. In their tenderness and only faintly disguised sensuality they might border on to what in today’s Iran would be subject to censorship. Yet, paradoxically, they go back directly to sources that are undisputedly a part of Iran’s cultural heritage.