A pioneer of modern art in Iran, Marcos Grigorian was an artist, teacher, gallerist, collector and curator. He organised the first national Tehran Biennial in 1958 after representing Iran in the 1956 Venice Biennale. His diverse practice included performative photography as well as figurative and expressionist paintings that were often made with humble materials such as earth, straw, mud, found objects and perishable food. Through the use of these resources, Grigorian’s work can be read as a suggestive precursor to land art as we know it today.
Half a Loaf (1966) is part of Grigorian's well-known pop art series connected to everyday rural life in Iran. Half-eaten bread sits in the midst of natural materials, including soil, sand and mud, to create textured surfaces referencing parched land and the adobe houses found in local Iranian villages. His work Pistachios #1 (1968) is composed of pistachios painted in brown pigment that are fixed to a minimalist base of mud and straw framed by two painted square borders. The repetition of the rectangular shape and the uniform use of colour reflect a refined minimalism, a penchant for a structured geometry and an expression of local popular culture. Also exhibited is Eight of Nine (1964) in which 8 wooden tiles are laid on an earth compound in burlap, painted with brown and earthy shades of burgundy. A space for the 9th tile is left empty, giving an impression of space for the tiles to shift around; to create a possible game of tessellation.