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“Jahnon”; Sumi ink on paper, 17″W x 26″H

“Jahnon” (the most beloved) is often used in Persian Sufi poetry to address one’s beloved. The word is a plural of “Jahn” which literally translates as spirit and refers to that which is most dear and essential to one’s being. In other words, Jahnon does not refer to an actual person, but rather to an essence that is at the very core of existence. But since one is naturally drawn towards that which is most dear to them, this type of poetic gesture has been understood as love poetry and the subject of one’s love as the beloved/ Jahnon.

Similarly, the portraits in this project are not of any one individual, but are an attempt to capture an essence; to portray the force that draws, bonds and holds everything together.

Formally, I see this project growing out of my interest in Persian calligraphy and miniature paintings. These faces, similar to the ones in miniatures, have been simplified to the bare essentials, while every stroke reflects a familiar calligraphic gesture.