Afjei, a master Persian Calligrapher

This is one of the most beautiful renditions of my Persian name, Dordaneh (a unique pearl—dor: pearl, daneh: one, unique):

It was created for me some years ago by  Nasrollah Afjei, the Iranian master painter calligrapher. I visited his most recent works at the Gallerie Nicolas Flamel in Paris some time ago;  I felt a  great sense of admiration and satisfaction in front of his beautiful canvases like this one:

The following is one of his more recent ones from the “Siah Mashgh” series; as young students in Iran, we all had to practice our calligraphy with special pens and the exercises were called Siah Mashgh or the black homework because of the extra black ink!

Even though Persian and Arabic use the same alphabet (Persian has 4 more letters than Arabic which has 28), the writing is way more beautiful and lends itself  better to calligraphy. “Nas’taliq” is the most popular contemporary Persian calligraphy style.

The Persian script is exclusively written cursively: the majority of letters in a word connect to each other. A characteristic feature of this script, possibly tracing back to Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, is that much to the chagrin of foreigners vowels are underrepresented! It’s a bit like shorthand with consonants but mostly omitted vowels.

“In comparison to Europe and North America calligraphy is a far more popular and practiced form of art in Iran and in most other countries around this area. You can spot at least one piece of calligraphy hung on the walls of most Iranian households.”

Since the script is cursive, the appearance of a letter changes depending on its position: isolated, beginning (joined on the left), middle (joined on both sides), and end (joined on the right) of a word.

Afjei is a genius in morphing them into a beautiful image that is part painting and part calligraphy…

I am wondering how Mister Afjei would create his masterpieces had he to work with the old Persian Cuneiform!

For those of you who can still read Persian, here is the poem that Nasrollah Afjei painted/calligraphed for me from the 14th century Persian poet, Shah Nematollah Vali. The main verse where you find my name roughly means “each one of us has a beautiful unique pearl”:

و لیکن هر یکی‌ از ما نکو دردانه ای‌ داریم

اگر رندی و می نوشی بیا میخانه ای داریم

و گر تو عشق می بازی نکو جانانه ای داریم

اگر از عقل می پرسی ندارد نزد ما قدری

وگر مجنون همی جوئی دل دیوانه ای داریم

درین خلوتسرای دل نشسته دلبری با ما

هزاران جان فدای او که خوش میخانه ای داریم

تو گر گنجی همی جوئی در آ در کنج دل با ما

که گنج ما بود معمور و در ویرانه ای داریم

همه غرقیم و سرگردان درین دریای بی پایان

ولیکن هر یکی از ما نکو دُردانه ای داریم

چنین جائی که ما داریم به نزد او چه خواهد بود

برای شمع عشق او عجب پروانه ای داریم

خراباتست و ما سرمست و سید جام می بر دست

درین میخانهٔ باقی ، می مستانه ای داریم

Visit this great site for some amazing calligraphy here.

I met some beautiful women at Paris Photo

My friend Anahita Ghabaian, the owner of  Silk Road Galleryinvited  me to go and see her great photo collection at the Grand Palais. I went and discovered the most beautiful women of the world! I didn’t know many of the newcomers to the scene like Paolo Roversi:

The above photo reminds me of my friend, Maureen.

I liked his other-worldly portraits where even the nudes were not in your face!

A jewel of a photo for me was Brancusi’s Eileen on the bench of his studio; I have appreciated his sculptures for ever and his “sleeping muse” kept me company for years.

The highlight for me was the Silk Gallery’s Persian Women; I met the super talented Shadi Ghadirian with her new collection of Miss Butterfly (Shahparak khanom):

A graceful and delicate butterfly/woman gets trapped in the web of a spider…

I knew her for her “Ghajar” and “Like Everyday” collections:

The late Bahman Jalali’s “image of imagination” was watching me quietly from the wall:

Iranian photographers’ works are regularly presented to museums and other institutions everywhere thanks to the Silk Road Gallery ; I like Rana Javadi’s Termeh clad woman:

There was a gorgeous sun setting on Grand Palais that made everything glow in the golden hour; perfect for taking pictures!

After Iran I went to Africa starting from Egypt and Youssef Nabil’s taunting girls:

then to Morocco and Lalla Essaydi’s “I want to be Shirin Neshat when I grow up” image; there is something about the written text that fascinates me:

The great surprise were the other Africans like this beautiful portrait, by Soungalo Malé, of this girl in her sunday suit in 1960; she looks at you with modesty but elegance:

I fell in love with this vintage photo of Ian Berry’s African Collection; a small print that made me smile:

The energy of the place made me forget my aching feet so I plowed on…

I was happy to see Sissi Farassat’s  Andrea, swimming in a sea of sequins:

I love fashion photography and I wasn’t disappointed! Cathleen Naundorf’s Dior 2007 collection made me want to color it pink:

Kate Moss was omnipresent but I liked Annie Leibovitz’s protrait of hers (bellow); she is best friends with the camera and many of her portraits were shouting from multiple galleries!

I saw Leibovitz’s pilgrimage photos too and I loved them all; here is the one I like to include here with all its majesty:

On the other end of the spectrum was Chris Bucklow‘s a thousand points of light that reminded me of Castaneda’s Don Genaro!

I like big cities and skyscrapers so I easily connected with Gail Albert Halaban’s  “Dance studio” from her Out my window NY city collection. Put that on your wall and the whole world changes…

The sun was shining when I went in the Grand Palais,

and I came out when it was growing dark; the site of the Petit Palais in the Parisian “blue hour” was indeed majestic:

Visit the  Silk Road Gallery  here

It’s a scary scary Halloween

These are scary times people! The tricksters have been at it for the past couple of years and everybody’s scared…Scared of the U.S. economy, scared of the future of Euro, scared of Greece and the Latin European countries going down in flames and scared of the horrifying islamists! Do we really need more ghouls and demons?

There are no trick or treaters in Paris but I can’t help thinking about Halloweens in United States; I love this fun holiday and the whole tradition of choosing the pumpkins, carving them and waiting for little kids to come begging for candies.

The best halloween I’ve had was years ago in Salem Massachusetts; it was raining and the whole neighborhood was covered with gorgeous foliage (on the trees and on the ground). I am getting a bit nostalgic here so here is the last pumpkin I actually carved in California a couple of years ago:

I am getting used to Halloween in europe though—this year I actually bought some pumpkins whereas last year in Zurich I just made a poster for the occasion!

My very frightening but prescient Holloween post of 3 years ago:

Trick-or-Treat, a blood red Halloween

Halloween in Darfur

On a happier note, watch the great Peanuts Pumpkin story here.


Kindle and I, a love affair…

I have been wanting to write about my Kindle ever since I got it two years ago; the following is how the Kindle and I feel about each other.

I absolutely love my Kindle! I thought that as a bibliophile, I will hate any e-reader but I can’t find any fault with this quiet, light, patient, non-demanding, treasure chest of a library that goes from my purse to my bed table and travels everywhere with me from a crowded café in Paris to my quiet bed table.

It lets me highlight any passage in the book which I can print later; I don’t even have to open a dictionary to see the meaning of a word – my kindle whispers it in my eyes…My sneaky Kindle lets me read a sampler of the books I am interested in and only then gently pushes me into making money for Amazon…

Now it’s my Kindle’s turn to talk about me:

Hello, my name is Kindle Bezos and I am to tell you how my  mommy, Michele loves me. I am a spoiled, pampered, well loved little gadget; Michele lost my brother but she bought me one day later. She loves me and my dad, Jeff!

*She hugs me and kisses me to make the world jealous…

*She loves it that I am not a battery vampire like her iPad .

*She learned my instructions quickly (I am easy) and she types on me with patience and she talks to me often in 3 languages!

*She loves it that I can communicate easily with the mothership and get her almost any book her little heart desires; she likes the good deals I broker for her and I am working on showing her my French side (no luck on any Persian titles showing up on my screen soon!)

*She takes care of me – I even have a great polka dotted cover! She downloads almost everything I suggest to her (Papa Jeff will be happy with me if I succeed to make her read the New York Times on me!)

I don’t like it when:

a) She highlights long passages (sometimes I want to shout so she stops before underlining the whole damned book).

b) She stops often for a word’s definition (I am expecting that from my foreign owners; they always exhaust me with the dictionary…)

All this said, nothing comes close to a real library which I had in a previous life:

Those old friends are sitting in a storage room in Los Angeles and waiting for me to go and rescue them!

I love my Kindle but in defense of books, watch this very funny clip here.

The best commercial for Kindle:


A spatial odyssey in Paris

I absolutely adore the work of Tapio Wirkkala, the Finnish glass designer I discovered a couple of weeks ago. Glass may be great as a medium but in the hands of this artist, it becomes magical…

We’ve all seen  some of his designs like the Finlandia vodka bottles but he’s a poet when his work comes done to a less commercial level. I had a great time in the Decoratif Arts museum of Paris.

I had the advantage of a great view to Paris — check the Eiffel tower’s reflection in Wirkkala’s five Murano glass bottles’ window:

There were some funny glass (and wood) sculptures like Richard Meitner’s fish:

I was pleasantly surprised by the Czech artist, Libuše Niklová (1934–1981), a famous toy designer. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Niklová created toys like the inflatable animals and dolls (I had one clone of it in Tehran with a little bell in it!)

“She had the brilliant idea of using flexible pleated piping that squeals when pressed. The result was her “accordion” toys: a cat, dog, goat and lion that can be taken apart and reassembled like a construction game.”

Check out her toys links at the end of the post; you’ll have fun.

As long as I was with the funny stuff, Snoopy always makes me smile:

His creator, Charles Schulz, famously said:

“Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There’s so little hope for advancement.”

I saw one of the first huge ad posters for The laughing cow or “La Vache Qui Rit” cheese:

The permanent collection of this museum has a rich array of chairs:

from Mies van der Rohe‘s Barcelona chair to Ron Arad’s folding one:

Olivier Mourgue designed his well-known classic Djinn chairs (1965) made famous by ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ by Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick created a futuristic rotating Hilton hotel in Space. In it, the Djinn chairs received their lasting moment of fame. Olivier Mourgue named the chairs ‘Djinn” which in Muslim legend, is a spirit often capable of assuming human or animal form and exercising supernatural influence over people (Genie in English):

Do you remember the beautiful scene of the Hilton Lobby in Space Odyssey?

I should stop before I make this post about Kubrick!

I also liked this statue of wood and nails by Janine Janet, made for a window of Balenciaga in Paris in 1959; It’s called the queen:

One of the best things about this underrated museum is its breathtaking views of Paris; I kept running from one window to the next!

I took all of these pictures with my android phone and this is the proof:

Last but not least, my favorite view from the building is this one looking down at Place des Pyamides:

the museum’s site here.

the cute toys here.


Tapio Wirkkala here. 



Ralph Lauren’s Mighty Jaguars to blazing Ferraris

Museum of Decoratif Arts in Paris showcases Ralph Lauren car collection where not only you can see these gorgeous cars, but you can listen to these babies engines growl (his site does a great job at that too). I am not crazy about Ferraris but his 250 Testa Rossa (red head) was a dream in red…

I  loved the Jaguars: they made the XKD to race; it has a graceful rear with a surprising fin! It was the most successful racing car of its generation. It became so successful (three consecutive victories in Le Mans 24 hour race) that Jaguar made a road version a few years later: the beautiful XKSS:

My absolute favorite was of course the magnificent Atlantic Bugatti, a masterpiece in speed and luxury made in 1938.

Ralph Lauren cars here.

my other post about fast cars here  and here.