Introduction of Paintings collection of Ali Asfarjani
The collection of miniatures and leather mosaics of Master Ali Asfarjani is an exquisite treasure that consisted of 18 works that dedicated to University of Tehran at 2007 by his family, according to his will. The collection is exhibited at a hall, known as Hall of Asfarjani, at Negarestan Garden & Museum of University of Tehran.
Notably, the first exhibition of the collection was at Moghaddam Museum of University of Tehran after his death, and then moved to Negarestan Garden & Museum of University of Tehran for exhibition, preservation, and conservation.
Master Ali Asfarjani, prominent and skillful artist of Iranian traditional and national arts, was born at Isfahan. Being scholar and artisan, his father Asad Allah Asfarjani was enthusiastically eager to collect, recognize, preserve and keep ancient manuscripts, albums of mosaics, and the other artworks that gradually concluded to a remarkable and valuable collection of various artistic masterpieces. As a child, he went to known masters of Isfahan with his father including Master Abbas Zolfonoon Asfarjani, his uncle, a skilled master in tool binding, who taught Ali Asfarjani basics in leather artistry. At fourteen, he moved to Tehran with his family and entered to the School of Fine Arts at 1934. He learnt basics in miniature from design to color at Master Hadi Tajvidi School, at the same time; he studied gilding rules at Master Ali Dorudi’s class. He enjoyed of masters such as Mohammad Ali Zavieh, Abutaleb Moghimi, Ali Karimi, Abdollah Bagheri, and Salim Aghili too. Master Asfarjani graduated successfully at “Miniature and Gilding” field at 1939. The results of those years are several miniatures with marginal gildings that are kept in some museums in Iran. Regarding his skills, he worked at parliament press after graduation with his brother for seven years to design and draw stamps and governmental logos. Then he worked in printing field after importing printing and engraving machinery. At 1961, he seriously entered in leather mosaic and mosaic when he created his first work. Master Asfarjani worked enthusiastically on leather mosaic, gilding, and miniature until 75 year of age. To his death, he worked 22 pieces of mosaics and leather mosaic, 4 miniatures of Hafez and Sa’di poems. His themes are mostly gnostic, literal, and epic poems from nobles of Iranian literature. They have been exhibited in various exhibitions, including “Iranian Art Festival” at Düsseldorf, Germany, 1991, exhibition at Museum of Sa’d Abad Palace, 1992, Contemporary Museum at 1992, and “national Iranian Art Exhibition” at 1992.
Leather mosaic and heated impression artistry
Tableaus of leather stamping and mosaics have been developed from tool binding which was in use through times. Tool binding, as an ancient fine art, were worked to bind exquisite and valuable books and holy Quran. The art abandoned at political gap between Safavid and Qajar; but by presenting printing machinery, tool binding technology and art developed in two ways. First, applying dark colors, opaque and baked colors at tool binding that is basic in the art. Second, stamping chamois by impressing and heated impressing used as methods to tool the leather. Engraved stamps with given designs are heated and impressed on the leather to burn designs on the surface which change its color to dark brown or black which is the reason for labeling the art as “Sukhteh” (burnt).
Asfarjani’s method in “Burnt” and “Mosaic”
-Using heated impressed leather.
-Using natural dark leathers.
Firstly, he drew his interested motif in favorite dimensions on paper. Patterns are mostly according to Iranian classic poems and literature or religious epics and accounts. Then it is stuck on an intact hide, with no pores, as background, at the same dimension of the real design. Second, patterns are cut by a tool called “pattern cutter” [Naqsh Bor], a steel knifelike tool with cutter point, from the background one after another; the background is a two layer sheet of hide and paper which can be patterns of, for example, cloths, hat, trunk, stem, and leaves. They should be cut of the background to establish on colored leathers, then to be cut of leathers carefully by pattern cutter. For example, for green leaves of trees the pattern is stuck on green leather then carefully cut. The artist should consider how much leather pieces expand after fixation. If the margins would not be considered, there would be space among pieces of leathers after mosaic works that can be counted as flaw. When leather was cut thoroughly as strips, they are going to be stuck with no space on the background using glue mixed of starch and grape syrup. Then the artist try to pattern glued earlier. Here, if the artist is skilled at gilding, he can finish the work by himself otherwise he needs teamwork