Faramarz Pilaram


QANDRIZ, MANSUR (Manṣur Qandriz, b. Tabriz, 11 Esfand 1314  Š./1 March 1936; d. in a car accident near Čālus, 7 Esfand 1344  Š./26 February 1966; FIGURE 1), modernist artist and a noted member of Saqqā-ḵāna School of Art.


Born and raised in Tabriz, in 1954 Qandriz attended the Tehran School of Decorative Arts (Honarestān-e honarhā-ye zibā), founded by Jalil Ziāʾpur (1920-1999) and a group of artists in 1951. His teachers at the newly established school included, Sohrab Sepehri, Mansureh Hosayni (Manṣura Ḥosayni, b. 1926), Mehdi Vishkai (Mehdi Viškāʾi, b. 1920), Jalāl Āl-e Aḥmad, Simin Dānešvar (Simin Daneshvar, 1921-2012), and Yahya Zoka (Yaḥyā Ḏokāʾ, 1923 -2000), (Mašhadizāda, p. 9). In 1961, after a three-year gap, Qandriz continued his art education at the Faculty of Decorative Arts (Dāneškada-e honarhā-ye tazʾini). While in the college he married Louise Ḥamidi, and the couple had a son named Nimā.

Qandriz and Morteżā Momayyez played pivotal roles in the establishment of Tālār-e Iran (Iran Gallery), which was founded in 1964, in collaboration with Sadeq Tabrizi (Ṣādeq Tabrizi, b.1939), Faramarz Pilaram (Farāmarz Pilārām, 1938–1983), and Massud Arabshahi (Masʿud ʿArabšāhi, b. 1935). “The establishment of Tālār-e Iran would have never been possible if it wasn’t for Momayyez, and the four-member group would have never joined the students at Tehran University if it wasn’t for Qandriz” (Tabrizi, 1999, pp. 88-99). They organized one major exhibition at the space and later another show of several avant-garde artists including Sepehri, Bijan Saffari (Bijan Ṣaffāri, b.1933), Marcos Grigorian (1925-2007), Parviz Tanavoli (Parviz Tanāvoli, b.1937) and Manuchehr Sheybani (Manučehr Šeybāni, 1924-1991)After the first exhibition at Tālār-e Iran, however, the group separated. Qandriz, Tabrizi, Pilaram, and Arabshahi also cooperated in the establishment of Iran’s first interior design office in 1964, which also saw its end after the untimely death of Qandriz at the age of thirty. Tālār-e Irān was later named Tālār-e Qandriz (Aḥmadi Maleki, p. 35).


While still in high school, Qandriz was drawn to the progressive realist paintings of Ilya Repin (1844-1930) and Russian-Armenian seascape artist Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900). Later in college, and before turning to a paradigmatic exhortation of modernist language within local Iranian narrative, and developing his own semi-abstract style, he was introduced to European modernism, and he delved into the tradition of Russian realists and European classical and figurative art  (FIGURE 2FIGURE 3) Incorporating the figurative techniques of old masters, he created his own corporeal abstraction, which also indicates a process of gradual formalization, progressing from free forms to order. Matisse, Picasso, and Persian miniature paintings inspired Qandriz’s early figurative work. He chose, as a critic commented, “mystical symbols to combine traditional and modern elements into his abstract designs” (Keshmirshekan, 2009).

Imaginary elements and heavenly figures, reminiscent of spiritual quests, are characteristics of Qandriz’s early paintings. Although he started with nature scenes, his visual language was based in the visceral world. He inclined towards pure forms and a combination of imagery featuring pastoral scenes. One of the founding members of what was later called Saqqā-ḵāna school of painting, a term coined by the art critic Karim Emami to describe the school of art influenced and inspired by the Iranian folk art (Ekhtiar, 2000; Gudarzi, pp. 67, 146), Qandriz was instrumental in formulating a modernist and yet ethnic visual language. The appeal of such concepts as “national” and “Iranian identity” contributed, largely, to the popularity of Saqqā-ḵāna school of art in the 1960s (Yarshater, 1958, pp. 2-3; see also idem, 1979, pp. 363-77).

During his Saqqā-ḵāna period, Qandriz abstracted many ethnic ornaments and simplified geometrical designs characteristics of Persian and Islamic art. Human and animal forms, found in traditional and ancient manuscripts, along with Persian tiles and ceramics, became particular sources of his inspiration. Many of his canvases depicted mystical symbols combined with modern elements, which he spread throughout his canvases. However, unlike many Saqqā-ḵāna artists, he did not incorporate calligraphy in his work, and yet his fresh, new canvases, based on local narratives, enabled him to bridge European modernism with Iranian ethnic sensibilities. Qandriz specifically searched for beauty in Iranian motifs and popular art (Emami, 1965, pp. 46-48; see also idem, Exhibition Catalogue, Borghese Gallery, Tehran, 5 Ordibehešt 1345 Š./24 April 1966;  FIGURE 4,  FIGURE 5).

Qandriz, as contended by Sādeq Tabrizi “was not an independent thinker, and his later works were clearly influenced by the works of Masoud Arabshahi, who had previously incorporated mythical and exotic motifs in his paintings”—works that made Arabshahi the winner of the Fourth Tehran Biennal (Tabrizi, 2005 pp. 26- 27; see also Afšār Mohājer, pp. 201-6). However, a closer look indicates that although they used ethnic images, Qandriz, Tanavoli, and Arabshahi were clearly individualistic in their approach (Keshmirshekan, 2005, pp. 607-30). Neither the passive recipients of European modernism, nor the simple imitators of local narratives, the Saqqā-ḵāna artists were well informed by the Western tradition and yet turned to ethnicity and popular culture within a new aesthetic context (Fouladvand, p. 36).

Qandriz was among the first group of Iranian artists who focused on mythical motifs, tribal textile designs, and metalwork. In his various artistic efforts, he attempted to offer a modern language “to elaborate and define a truly Iranian style” (Pākbāz, 1974, p. 33; idem, 2006, p. 307).

The ten-year span of Qandriz’s career coincided with the opening of  the Tehran Biennials (Emami, 1987, pp. 641-42), which, inspired by the Venice Biennal and supported by the Ministry of Culture, were organized in an attempt to promote contemporary arts, focusing on Persian heritage and civilization (Yarshater, 1979, pp. 363-77). Qandriz’s works were shown at several exhibitions, including the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Tehran Biennials, the Collection of Modern Iranian Art, which toured the United States and Israel, the São Paulo Art Biennial, and the Iranian Contemporary Art Exhibition in Paris.


Bibliography (Internet sources accessed 25 May 2012):

Kāmrān Afšār Mohājer, “Honarmand e Irāni va modernism,” Našr-e dānešgāh-e honar, Tehran, 1384 Š./2005, pp. 201-6.

Raḥmān Aḥmadi Maleki, “Talaši barā-ye ẓohur-e yek maktab-e melli,” Faṣl-nāma-ye honarhā-ye tajassomi, no. 13, Mehr 1380 Š./2001, pp. 31-35.

Maryam Ekhtiar“Modern and Contemporary Art in Iran,” in Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, available at  http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ciran/hd_ciran.htm, 2000.

 Karim Emami, “Dar raṯā-ye Qandriz,” Neginno. 10, Šahrivar 1344 Š./September 1965, pp. 44-48.

Idem, art, “Art in Iran: XI. Post-Qajar,” Encyclopaedia Iranica II, 1987, pp. 640-46.

Hengameh Fouladvand, “Visual Art” in Iran Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Islamic Republic I, eds., Mehran Kamrava and Manochehr Dorraj, Westport, 2008, p. 36.

Morteżā Gudarzi, Jostoju-ye hoveiyat dar naqqaši-e moʿāṣer-e Iran (Search of identity in contemporary art of Iran), 2001, pp. 67-68, 146.

Hamid Keshmirshekan, “Saqqā-kāna ii. School of Art,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, 2009.

Idem, “Neo-Traditionalism and Modern Iranian Painting: The Saqqa- ḵāna School in the 1960s,” Iranian Studies 38/4, 2005, pp. 607-30.

ʿAbbās Mašhadizāda,“Kisti o čisti-e Qandriz,” Tandis, no. 131, Šahrivar 1387 Š./September 2008, p.9.

Rueen Pākbaz, Naqqaši moʿāṣer-e Iran (Contemporary Iranian painting), Tehran, 1974, p. 33.

Idem, “Manṣur Qandriz,” in Dāyerat-al-maʿāref-e honar (Encyclopedia of art), Tehran, 2006, p. 307.

Sādeq Tabrizi, “Saqqā-ḵāna az ānjā pā gereft,” Faṣl-nāma-ye honarhā-ye tajassomi, no. 6, Tābestān-Pāʾiz 1378 Š./Summer-Fall 1999, pp. 88-99.

Idem, “Peydāyeš-e Tālār-e Irān: tavallod-e maktab-e Saqqā-ḵāna,” in Ḵolāṣa maqālāt-e hamāyeš-e honar-e modern-e Irān (Proceedings: abstracts of the conference on Modern Iranian Art), Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, 2005, pp. 26-27.

Ehsan Yarshater, “Contemporary Persian Painting,” in R. Ettinghausen and E. Yarshater, Highlights of Persian Art, New York, 1979, pp. 363-77.

Idem, “Introduction,” Biennāl-e Tehran, 1337 dar Kāḵ-e Abyaż (Exhibition catalog, First Tehran Biennial in Abyaz Palace), April 1958, pp. 2-3.

Additional sources.

Āydin Āḡdāšlu,“Bāqi hama ḥarf-ast,” Dow māh-nāma-ye honar-e moʿāṣer, no. 2, Āḏar-Dey, 1372 Š./1993, pp. 44-48.

Kamran Diba, “Iran,” in Contemporary Art from the Islamic World, London, 1989, pp. 150-56.

Catalogue of the Third Tehran Biennial, Tehran, 1962.

Catalogue of the Fourth Tehran Biennial, Tehran, 1964.

Catalogue of the Fifth Tehran Biennial, Tehran, 1966.

Fereshteh Daftari “Another Modernism: An Iranian Perspective,” in L. Gumpert and S. Balaghi, Picturing Iran: Art, Society and Revolution, London, 2002, pp. 39-87.

Karim Emami, “Namayešgāhe āṯār-e Qandriz,” Exhibition Catalogue, Borghese Gallery, Tehran, 5 Ordibehešt 1345 Š./24 April 1966.

Idem, “Negāhi dobāra be maktab-e Saqqā-ḵāna,” Exhibition Catalogue, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, 1977.

Farivar Hamzeyi, “Mansour Ghandriz,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdexIRLEvMM, from the Farivar Hamzeyi Series of Modern Artists, 2011.

Parviz Tanāvoli, “Tariḵča-ye gālleryhā-ye Iran: Tālār e Qandriz,” Tandis, no. 207, 15 Šahrivar 1390  Š./6 September 2011.

(Hengameh Fouladvand)

Originally Published: January 1, 2000

Last Updated: May 29, 2012

  • Birthday: March 2, 1936
  • Death: February 26, 1966
  • Birthplace: Tabriz, East Azerbaijan, Iran


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