Like many in his generation of artists in Iran, Malek reinterprets elements of his Persian heritage via a modern visual vocabulary. In Centaur, he recasts a Greek mythological figure, half human and half horse, in a style recalling traditional Persian textiles and designs—while he builds the abstracted figure, composed of geometric shapes, on Cubist principles.
Born in Tabriz, Malek attended the Tehran Art Academy as a youth, then studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran. He took part in Tehran’s burgeoning art scene early on, exhibiting at the popular Talar-e Iran (Iran Gallery), which Mrs. Grey frequented and where she likely purchased Centaur.
In the mid-1960s Malek moved to the United States to study at the University of Iowa and Southern Illinois University, where he earned a PhD in art and environmental and industrial design. During this time he continued to paint, exhibiting in the Midwest and internationally. In 1973 he returned to Iran to establish a program in industrial design and art at the University of Tehran, where he taught until his return to the United States in 1980. He currently lives in Mission Viejo, California, where he teaches painting and photography.