Award-winning Iranian painter, Mohammad Ali Taraghijah, passed away in Tehran on August 12, 2010 at the age of 67 from

M. A. Taraghija

a heart attack. He was born in 1943. Though he studied mechanical engineering, Mr. Taraghijah found his real passion in painting and became one of the prominent artists in the Iranian contemporary art. His first exhibit was in 1976 in Iran at the age of 24. By early 1980s he developed a unique style “characterized by stylized horses that became his trademark”. He exhibited his works world-wide, in Tokyo and Beijing, throughout Europe (e.g. Paris, Madrid, Geneva, Florence), as well as in the Americas in cities such as New York, Chicago and Mexico City. International Museum of 20th Century Arts (TIMOTCA) has selected from Mr. Taraghija’s works in Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMCA) and Museum of Modern Arts of Sharjeh (U.A.E.), to represent Iran’s art.

He primarily used acrylic, mixed media, and watercolor. He also has done some small sculptures and etchings. His subjects are primarily abstract repetitive horses, roosters, with human figurines, painted in bright and happy colors, sometimes mixed with highly stylized Persian calligraphy. Certain paintings of his in terms of color and shape remind me of some works by the great Russian painter, Wassily Kandinski. In a couple of his works one can also see metamorphosis and evolution ideas in the style of the Dutch artist M.C. Escher. For example, a collection of horses in the center of a painting fade out as abstract geometric forms. But Taraghija certainly had his own unique style. In describing his paintings he wrote:

“The horses in my paintings ride free of the earth, as do the roosters, human forms and mountains. This symbolizes their constant thoughts of their origins, paradise, where there is peace, harmony and love. Their desire is to fly and to return home to loved ones. The color white in my paintings symbolizes God. We feel his presence close to us everywhere.”

A painting by Taraghija; click to enlarge

That “desire to fly” is apparent in many of his works as the subjects often appear to be detached and free from any type of confinement and floating in space. It seems like he and his subjects yearn for that universal human desire for peace, harmony and love, a need that nowadays is even more pronounced in troubled places like Iran. May he rest in peace.

Credits: Mr. Taraghija’s official site that also has a good collection of his works is taraghija.com. I have borrowed the images from his site. I originally came across the news of his passing in Tavoos, an Iranian art magazine.