The Minatour Scares the Good People (1966), a rare work by the late Iranian modernist Bahman Mohasses, will soon make a special appearance at Sotheby’s upcoming 20th Century/Middle East sale on 24 April in London. In an exclusive interview with Bazaar Art, Ashkan Baghestani, Sotheby’s Head of Sale, Director Contemporary and Modern Arab and Iranian art, tells what makes this painting unique.
A vivid representation of the Mohasses’s lifetime spent tackling feelings of alienation, loneliness and disenfranchisement, the painting depicts an unknown landscape where a group of surreal half-human half-beast creatures gather round with their mouths open in agony while one larger creature appears to walk towards them.
In the back, what we’d imagine to be a female creature, carries on her hip her child as she screams at the intruder in agony. This avant-garde painting, priced at an estimate of $387,814-484,767, also appears for the first time at auction.
“The minatour was Mohasses’ favourite subject to paint,” says Baghestani. “He became fascinated by the creature when he moved to Italy continuing to depict this half man and half human always without feet. There’s a very awkward movement about the minatour creating a sense of tension in the work.”
The painting has remained in a private collection since the 1970s and hasn’t been exhibited in 25 years. It displays the elements that are most sought-after in the artist’s works, adds Baghestani, including mythological symbolism and a vibrant cast of characters that refer to the artist’s alter-ego Fifi.
Sotheby’s sale of 20th Century/Middle East takes place in London on 24 April. Sothebys.com