Born in 1930, Lahijan, he graduated in architecture from the University of Fine Arts in Tehran. His favoute subjects of painting are horses and trees. During the Nowruz holiday season and at Honaronline’s Haft-Seen Table he talked about his life and art:
At 88, he says he came to like painting in an early stage in life – as if he was born to paint. He took painting, music and calligraphy classes, and even took a job in a shop to do signs. He came to Tehran at 20 and went to college to study art. Later he took courses in architecture – recommended by his father - which landed him a job at the municipality.
He is known for redesigning the Sai Park in Tehran. Sai Park is one of the 800 parks in the city and one of the biggest. Locals go there especially on weekends and holidays to have picnics, to relax in the gardens among the tall maple trees, to play badminton or volleyball or local children to play on the playground. It also has a wildlife park.
On how he got the job to redesign the Sai Park he says: In 1963, I was tasked by the municipality to redesign the park. My idea was for the park not to have steps. This would later make it easier for the children and the elderly to use it with ease. We faced financial problems though. It’s the cheapest park in Tehran because at that time we didn’t have a lot of budget to redesign it with expensive materials.
Mahjoobi complains about the fact that most of the urban architecture in Tehran and other cosmopolitan cities are identical: I have spent 66 years of my life in Tehran. I have seen a lot of changes in its architecture. The city is beautiful and has unique structural designs. I have seen new beautiful buildings in recent years. The only problem we face today is water shortage. This is a huge problem, because without water there is no life. The city has lost over 60 types of its species in the past 40 years alone. This is a huge disaster.
About his painting he says: I was too busy doing architectural designs in Tehran, Tabriz and Isfahan. But I never gave up painting. I organized art exhibitions every two years. Some of my visitors included Jalal Ale Ahmad and Simin Daneshvar. Most of my paintings feature natural scenery. I still paint the same subjects. I feel like we have everything today but have lost life itself. Instead of bird songs we hear car horns and engines.
On why he paints horses and trees, he says: Horse is the symbol of energy, beauty and kindness. Artists are in live with this creature, because it has its roots in humans and is linked to human progress all throughout history. Tree is the symbol of life and my favourite choice. It has strange features. Down there it is oil and petrochemical products. Its trunk can be used to make paper and wooden works. It also produces fruits and can be used as medicine. A tree can provide nest for birds. Trees are sacred and we must respect that.
About his Nowruz memories as a child he says: Iran has different rituals and traditions from fire jumping to egg colouring during this time of the year. Nowadays, I keep thinking about the Nowruz holidays of the past - a celebration of the return of spring, a food-laden affair where thousand-year-old dishes were served each year on tables and kids got money. These days, many families take a trip during the Nowruz peak season but in the past it was an excuse to visit friends and relatives. On the first day of New Year we used to visit the elderly. The second day was all about the elderly visiting each other. And on the third day family members would get together to exchange gifts. The idea, in keeping with Nowruz's overarching theme of renewal, is to cleanse away the past year so you can start the new one refreshed and renewed - freshness and renewal.
Even now, Nowruz has its own set of beauties and splendour, but there are ugly trends to it as well that need to be dropped. Some people never see or visit each other for several years. The time and date of Nowruz varies every year but the same traditions should be observed. The differences between today’s Nowruz and those of the past are huge. Not just Iran, but the whole world is changing rapidly for better or for worse. In the end, however, wisdom will prevail and the rest will vanish.