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Khavarani Art Seeks to Link the Centuries

Khamran-Khavarani-HEKMAT-2-iBy Grace Nasri, first published in Iran Times

An award-winning Iranian-American artist and architect, credited with introducing a new style of painting to the world, says the emotions portrayed in his vibrant artwork come from the feelings in his heart that originated from the poems of ancient Persian poets like Rumi, Hafez and Ferdowsi.

Iranian-American artist Khamran Khavarani is credited with introducing Abstract Romanticism to the world of art.  “Abstract means, no face, no story and no connection with anything.  Romanticism is about telling stories, it’s about face, it’s about narration,” Khavarani told the Iran Times. “The meaning of Abstract Romanticism is the face of the faceless, untraveled road or untold story.  My paintings are telling a story, but not a defined story; so you find your own story and your own way in the painting.  You find your own way, in this way. You find your place in this place.  That’s the meaning of Abstract Romanticism: coexisting of the opposites.”

Khavarani explained to the Iran Times how his unique style came to be called Abstract Romanticism back in 2003.  “People were constantly asking me what my art style was called, and I had no idea what the answer was.  Professor Albert Boime of UCLA, who has since passed away (1933-2008), and an Iranian-American art historian Roshan Hubbard recognized the style and defined the name Abstract Romanticism for my art, and set out to introduce me and my work to the world.”


When Boime visited Khavarani’s gallery to examine his work for the first time, the Iranian-born artist explained that his work was inspired by classical Persian poets like Rumi, Hafez and Ferdowsi.  As such, Khavarani doesn’t take full credit for his artistic masterpieces, which involve a range of vibrant reds and oranges, greens and blues.  Khavarani told the Iran Times that the messages and stories that are the basis for his paintings come from the poems of 13th and 14th century Persian poets Rumi and Hafez.  “I studied their poems and the messages and meanings are complied in my heart.  When I paint I don’t have any specific ideas in my mind, it is just those feelings of joy manifesting themselves in my art,” he told the Iran Times.


One year after meeting with Khavarani, Boime decided to introduce the artist and his new style of painting to the world by writing a book entitled, “The Birth of Abstract Romanticism: Art for a New Humanity, Rumi and the Paintings of Kamran Khavarani.”
In the book, Boime explored the effects of Khavarani’s style: “… Khavarani visually expresses his inner response to Rumi, evoking the oceanic and cosmic metaphors of the Persian mystic… Assigning to each of the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) its own unique color register, he gives his primordial visions—most evident in his glowing ‘Creation’ (2003)—a riveting presence.  His skies and seas are saturated in unprecedented, emotional blue-greens, purples and oranges, and his mountain forms are often surrounded by a web of shadowy halos that convey a misty sensory impression of a world still in formation.”

Burning Thunder

Burning Thunder

On February 1, 2008, at the yearly gathering of the International scholars and art historians at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Professor Jonathon Harris of England’s Liverpool University officially announced the discovery of the style of Abstract Romanticism by Boime.

Angelic Flowers

Angelic Flowers

Born in Tehran in 1941, Khavarani began painting on the walls of his home as a three-year-old.  His passion for art intensified as he grew older, and at the age of 12, he began studying classical painting with the Iranian artist Reza Samimi.  From there, Khavarani told the Iran Times that he continued painting on his own.  Khavarani’s earlier paintings were influenced by his classical training, but he told the Iran Times that his recent encounter with the philosophy of Rumi and other Persian philosophers and poets has transformed both him and his art work.  Khavarani later went on to receive his master’s degree in Architecture and his Ph.D. in Urban Design from Tehran University in 1966.



Khavarani, who immigrated to the United States in 1981, completed his graduate work under the guidance of his mentor Hooshang Seyhoon, an internationally renowned Iranian authority in art and architecture.

Khavarani’s art is far reaching.  His creations range from colorful, Monet style impressionist landscapes to lifelike black-and-white portraits; he has drawn the portraits of many Iranian notables including Abolghassem Ghaffari, Fazlollah Reza, Houshang Seyhoun, Ehsan Yarshater and many more.

Reality's Dream

Reality's Dream

Khavarani’s art is not only manifested in his paintings, but they extend to his architectural work.  Currently living in Los Angeles, Khavarani has won numerous architectural awards in the 45 years that he has been working as an architect, including the California Building Official’s highest award of excellence for a single family residence, and the design award for the city of Beverly Hills in a commercial category.

His “art-scaping” design has been recognized and published in Japan’s most prestigious landscaping magazine for three consecutive years.

Tapestry with white Flowers

Tapestry with white Flowers

In addition to his unique style and technique, Khavarani uses non-traditional tools for his paintings; he paints with his hands encased in elastic gloves and occasionally uses a mango seed.  “It takes one day [for me to start and finish a painting]. I only paint when I am in a state of joy and happiness.  Sometimes it takes a long time to get there, and when I am in that state, I will paint until I fall down.  So in one session I could finish one painting.  Rarely do I go back to a painting.”

Khavarani’s art has been recognized by art historians, professors, experts in the field of art and even by the United States Library of Congress.

Khamran- Khavarani-14
“This Now Ruz [Persian New Year], one of my drawings of “The Bird of Freedom” was presented by the Now Ruz Commission to the Spirit of Thomas Jefferson and accepted by the Library of Congress.  This presentation has been officially noted in the Congressional Record and has become part of the United States’ history.  This bird represents love, freedom, selflessness and stability.”

The late Professor Boime, a big fan of the Iranian-American artist’s work, wrote, “…Khavarani resurrects the romantic possibility that art can change the world by reaching out unstintingly to the heart and imagination of the individual spectator… “It remains to be seen how the fallout from Khavarani’s painting will influence the history of art.”

For more information on Khavarani, or to view his collection, visit: