Ghandriz painted fabulous mythical creatures in a deliberately primitive, graphic style that evokes traditional Persian designs—as seen here in Simurg and in his double-sided Animals and Betrothal (G1975.93). A member of the Saqqakhaneh movement, he often referenced traditional Iranian decorative art, from the metal standards carried in religious processions to textile patterns.
Born and raised in Tabriz, Ghandriz attended the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran, where he studied realist painting and European classical and figurative art before turning to the more abstract, modernist visual language seen here. In Tehran in 1964, he played a pivotal role in establishing the Talar-e Iran (Iran Gallery), an important exhibition venue and gathering place for artists in Tehran. Mrs. Grey first saw Ghandriz’s work in 1962 at Talar-e Iran, where Parviz Tanavoli had brought her. After Ghandriz’s untimely death in a fatal car accident in 1965, his artist colleagues renamed the gallery Talar-e Ghandriz in his honor. Two years later, Mrs. Grey visited his studio, then run by his brother, and purchased Simurg, whose title refers to the mythical bird associated with the quest for knowledge. In her journal, she described the painting as “somber, comic, subtle, beautiful.”