Sculptures made of soft tufts of brightly-colored wool make up the latest series from Iranian artist Salman Khoshroo, a rumination on his experience with a case of COVID and the associated quarantine.
“Weaving inanimate fibers into faces has brought me comfort and helped with overcoming my own experience of contracting the virus,” the artist explained to Ignant magazine earlier this year. “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. Wool brings warmth and intimacy to these portraits and plays with provoking the nurture instinct.”
The fuzzy busts are a follow-up to his first experiments with wool as a portrait medium at the beginning of 2021. He adds that “making male portraits with this habitually perceived feminine material is part of a personal journey in re-interpreting the masculine condition. My aim is to make full volume sculptures in wool and develop some of the ideas out of this initial project.”
For his most recent collection, Khoshroo created seven unique busts, some more true to life and others with more abstracted features. One very lifelike sculpture is of a woman named “Anahita,” with short, blue hair and long, black eyelashes, expertly crafted from fine strands. Her complexion masterfully changes across her cheeks from peach to blushing pink.
Two other Khoshroo creations – one in white and one in dandelion yellow – have jackal teeth, conjuring up images of vampires with their pointy fangs and extended tongues.
This female bust has swaths of primary colors stretching across her neck and face. Her jet-black hair is cropped at her jawline and provides contrast to her wild visage. In another work, a male and female couple rest cheek-to-cheek, his flaming teal hair complementing her unnerving blue eyes.
The final sculpture in the series is a self-portrait of the artist. “Making this portrait was a moment of self-reflection,” Khoshroo wrote on an Instagram post, adding that, “I became very conscious of my own flesh and skin, like a surgeon laying down layers of anatomy and suturing [them] shut with sheets of skin. Constructing the face with transparent layers of thinned wool creates depth, much like glazing in painting. I make self-portraits regularly, about one every year; this one is the first sculpture and has a unique presence, reminds me of my own mortality.”
Salmon Khoshroo was born in Tehran in 1983 but spent his childhood in New York. After returning to Iran for several years, he went down under to study digital art at the Australian National University. After starting a career in photography, Khoshroo’s artform of choice changed to painting. His style was heavily influenced by Claude Monet and Lucian Freud.
He has tested out many different materials in his exploration of the human form. He has produced dozens of bold, conceptualized impasto portraits, as well as bubbly busts constructed from pigmented polyurethane foam. One set of work used electrical wire to bring his shapes to life.
“These portraits and configurations are sometimes made of lowly and unassuming materials such as wires and foam,” Khoshroo says. “There is an essence that I am chasing that can manifest itself in many forms and materials.”