In the late 1960s Sepehri began to depict close-ups of tree trunks. In Trees, which embodies the artist’s tendency toward clean brushstrokes and allusions to nature, his concise marks and evocative use of negative space suggest an abundance of trees tightly clustered in an otherwise barren landscape. Visiting his studio in Iran during this period, Abby Grey observed that his paintings were “essentially abstract statements about the earth.”
Born and raised in the ancient city of Kashan, Sepehri was a printmaker and poet as well as a painter. Soon after graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran, in 1953, he moved to Paris to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Returning to Kashan, he worked at the city’s Office of Education for nearly twelve years. In 1947 he published the first of his several books of poetry. In both his writing and his painting, he looked to both Eastern and Western forms of expression to create modern Persian voice.
Between August 1960 and March 1961, Sepehri apprenticed in a Tokyo printmaking studio. This experience had a profound impact on his work, which references a Zen philosophy and aesthetic in its minimalism, simplicity, and contemplativeness. In Japan, he also studied calligraphy, whose influence can be seen in the thick, gestural brushstrokes of his paintings.