Salman Khoshroo spent quarantine mastering wool as a material for sculpture.

The Iranian artist’s portraits have tended to be tactile. Even with painting, typically quite a “flat” medium, he’s layered his oils up so that the figures appear to be popping out from the canvas. During the COVID-19 quarantine, Khoshroo decided to experiment with wool, a new material for the artist. Set onto foam canvases, the woolen male figures he produced during this time are both recognisable and also surreal. The wool starts to look like pure flesh, as if Khoshroo has built a person from scratch; the pieces are a little more like sculpting than painting. He told Ignant Magazine that “these portraits are delicate and vulnerable and resonate with my own precarious situation. We live in fragile times, and I feel the need to find new materials and the mindset to reinvent my practice.” 

“We live in fragile times, and I feel the need to find new materials and the mindset to reinvent my practice.”

Khoshroo was born in Tehran in 1983, but spent his early schooling years in New York, and eventually received a bachelor’s degree in Digital Arts from the Australian National University in 2004. Khoshroo currently lives and works in Iran. In 2009, he transitioned from photography to painting, and started his professional artistic career by painting portraits, with a style inspired by Lucian Freud and Claude Monet.

The artist has worked with sculpture before. For his Entwire series he built a range of human figures out of electric wire. These are bright, multicoloured works that, much like his woolen portraits, create the human out of the nonhuman. This, according to Art Aesthetics magazine, points toward post-human philosophy. This school of thought stresses the importance of electronic devices and other media for human functioning in the modern world, and stresses the decreasing man/machine distinction. With the help of 3D printing, Khoshroo has also made sculptures that move, an attempt to make his sculptures seem literally alive. 

Text: Nicholas Burman