Gholamhossein Saber

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Gholamhossein Saber
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Born (1941-12-20) December 20, 1941 (age 82)
Shiraz, Iran
EducationBachelor of Arts in History and Geography
Alma materShiraz University
Known forPainting, Photography, Teaching Art
Notable work
StyleRealism, Expressionism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism
Spouse(s)Zahra Entezari

Gholamhossein Saber (Persian language: غلامحسین صابر), born 1941, is an Iranian artist known for painting, photography, and teaching art. [1] Saber's art has spun a wide range of styles from Realism (arts) and Expressionism to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. His portraits, mostly of the ordinary people, are considered unrivalled among the contemporary Iranian artists, [2] while some of his landscapes are compared to, and regarded on par with, the best of the French Impressionists. [3] [4]

Early life and education

Saber was born in 1941 in Shiraz, Iran, to Mohammad Hassan and Rezvan Saber. His great grandfather, Mirza Mehdi Saber, who was contemporary with Mohammad Shah Qajar and Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, was a poet and a calligrapher.[1] Saber's first experience with painting was in the elementary school, when the grade 5 teacher asked the students if they wanted to paint water colors. He was quick to volunteer and soon got ahead of other students and his water colors were hung in the classroom and the school corridors. [4]

The high school was not as encouraging to extracurricular and artistic activities and Saber did not focus much on painting in the first couple of years. He was an avid reader though and he spent a lot of time reading novels and literary magazines, including the periodical Sokhan, which as well published articles on art and general science. Once it printed a color reproduction of a Rembrandt self-portrait. Saber was so stunned with the portrait that for a while he took the magazine with him everywhere he went. [5]

The more he read and learned about art and artists' lives, the more he wanted to dedicate his life to art. While still in grade 10, he was convinced he wanted to become an artist. At the suggestion of his sister, he enrolled in weekly private lessons with Khalil Negargar, a Shirazi painter indirectly influenced by Kamal-ol-molk. Negargar taught him the basics of making oil paint from color pigments, building canvases, and copying from the old masters' works, a common practice among the painters of that period in Iran. He also recounted stories about the great painters, particularly Raphael, Titian, and Rembrandt, inspiring the young student and further fanning the flames of his passion for art.[4]

At the time, his major influences were Rembrandt and Ilya Repin, and his practice was mainly limited to copying from those two. In a group exhibition of students works, where he had submitted a copy of a portrait by Repin, he met Jahangir Mehraban-poor, a medical student and a friend of Saber's sister. Jahangir was a well-read person, knew English, and painted in his free time. He liked Saber's painting and asked him to go to his home to see his other works. Once he saw his works, he told Saber that copying was worthless and encouraged him to draw and paint from real life and the people on the street. The two became friends and went out to do live sketches a few times. Although those sessions were numbered and they lost track of each other for a few years, Saber continued to go out for drawing and plein air painting on Fridays. [4]

In 1960, after finishing high school, Saber was admitted to the History and Geography Bachelor's program in the Faculty of Literature of the Shiraz University. The university's scholarly and innovative environment offered him a broader and deeper perspective of the world. He made new friends among the university students, discovered writers he didn't know about before, and got familiar with classical music. Starting in 1960, the University of Pennsylvania was assisting the Iranian government in modernizing Pahlavi University based on American-style higher education. [6] Consequently, the university's central library was going through a major upgrade, acquiring large collections of English books, including a large number of books on visual arts. Saber could not have wished for more. He spent a lot of time in the library, studying the works of the old masters. Gradually, he became acquainted and fascinated with the Impressionists, particularly Monet, and Camille Pissarro. Trying to read those books, he painstakingly improved his English by looking up the new words in a dictionary.[4]

Saber graduated with a B.A. in History and Geography in 1964. The next year he completed a one-year program at the Tehran Teacher Training University (later renamed to Kharazmi University) to qualify for employment by the Ministry of Education. [7]


Upon completion of the program in 1965, he was hired as a high school teacher by the Ministry of Education (Iran) and was transferred to Khoramshahr, a small inland port city on the eastern shore of the Karoun river. The solitary life of a newcomer in a small town offered him a lot more free time to spend on painting and reading. In the old city with its palm trees and yet untainted views, its native people and laborers, and in Karoun, with its steam boats and cargo vessels, Saber found perfect subjects to practice his newly learned Impressionist techniques. According to himself, the Khoramshahr years were very critical in his career development as an Impressionist artist. At the same time, the paintings from that period have a strong Realistic and Expressionist bent and reflect the struggles and the sufferings of the people within the vast and rich landscapes of the South. [4]

In 1968, after living for three years in Khoramshahr, he was transferred to his hometown Shiraz and started teaching art, history, and geography at Mehrayeen and Shapoor high schools. He continued painting in his free time. As in the Khoramshahr years, his early Shiraz works, especially his portraits, with darker colors and strong brush strokes, had a certain Expressionistic look. Starting with mid-seventies, he gradually abandoned that approach. His colors become more vivid and he developed a refined, Pre-Raphaelite-like, style, while employing an Impressionist palette. [4] [8] [9] During the eighties, this disposition towards more vivid and pure colors continues and solidifies into a unique Impressionist and Pointillist style owed as much to the blazing Sun and the dazzling sky of the Fars province. [10]

Teaching art

In October 1968, the Ministry of Arts and Culture opened a cultural center on Ferdowsi street in Shiraz. The general director of the ministry in the Fars Province, Nasser Kojoori, asked Saber to join as the painting instructor. The center was called the House of Culture Number One (Persian language: خانه فرهنگ شماره یک). This was the beginning of Saber's secondary arts-related career as a painting teacher. Anyone who showed interest in painting could join the classes. Apart from drawing and painting techniques, the classes included art theory and art history sessions, as well as casual talks and discussions on literature, photography, cinema, and classical music. [4] For 32 years Saber trained hundreds of students, many of whom have become accomplished artists and art instructors. [11] In 2000, Saber retired from teaching at the public center and with his wife Zahra Entezari opened the Ofogh private art school. He continued teaching there for almost 20 years.[5]

Travel to Europe

In the Summer of 1978, Saber received a grant from the Ministry of Arts and Culture to visit Europe. Over the course of a month and a half, he travelled to Netherlands, France, and Italy, spending almost all his time visiting museums. This was a very enlightening experience for the artist. For the first time in life, he had a chance to see the actual works of art close by, instead of their reproductions in books and magazines. For the first time he experienced the impressive proportions of those works and was able to see firsthand the density and the brightness of the colors and examine the details of the works, down to the brushstrokes. He paid special attention to the works of the Impressionists, and was attracted to the Neoclassicist painters, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres in particular. In this trip he also took close to 3000 high-quality photographic slides of the painting and sculptures. Back home he shared those slides with his students and used those them in his art history and theory classes.[4]


Saber took an interest in photography when he was a university student, borrowing his sister's Lubitel camera. In 1969, Yeprem Artonians, known as Monsieur George in Shiraz, a professional photographer who owned a photography studio in Shiraz, encouraged Saber to buy a second hand Minolta SR-T 101, his first Single-lens reflex camera. Soon he started investing more time and resources in photography. He subscribed to photography magazines, purchased professional lenses and various photography equipment, and eventually, set up a dark room in his house to develop and print his own photographs. For the first 10 years he focused on black and white photography but then started doing color photography. [12] [4] In 2003 he had a show of his photographs in the Sabz Gallery in Tehran. [13]

Awards and recognition

Saber was born and lived the first 60 years of his life in a 200-year old heritage building in a historic neighborhood in Shiraz. In 2001, the Fars provincial government purchased this house and 20 of Saber's works in order to turn it into a museum. In 2003 a ceremony was held and the museum was officially opened to the public. Unfortunately this did not last long and within a few years the works were moved to an unknown location and the museum was closed.[5]

In the Spring of 2005, the Meshkinfam Art Museum in Shiraz held a retrospective of Saber's works in recognition of his lifetime contributions to Shiraz' art. [14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "بیوگرافی استاد غلامحسین صابر" [Artist Gholamhossein Saber's Biography]. Khabar Newspaper (in Persian). Shiraz, Iran. 2005.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  2. Dalvand, Ahmadreza (1993), "از شیراز تا شیراز با رنگ" [From Shiraz to Shiraz with Color], Donyaye Sokhan (in Persian), Tehran{{citation}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  3. Alkhas, Hannibal (1977-02-02). "بازگشت صابر به غم کم رنگی ها" [Saber's Return to the Sorrow of the Greys]. Kayhan Newspaper (in Persian). Tehran.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Mourizi-nejad, Hassan. "غلامحسین صابر" [Gholamhossein Saber]. Vista News (in Persian). Tehran. Retrieved 2022-06-15.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Mourizi-nejad, Hassan (2019). گزیده آثار غلامحسین صابر (بهشت نور و رنگ) [Gholamhossein Saber Selected Works, A Paradise of Live Light and Color] (in Persian). Tehran: Nazar Publishing. p. 332. ISBN 978-6001522833.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  6. "Penn around the World: A History of Penn's Engagement with Specific Regions and Countries, University of Pennsylvania University Archives". Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  7. Mourizi-nejad, Hassan (Spring 2018), "اتاق ارسی اولین بهانه های نقاشی. گفتگوی حسن موریزی نژاد با غلامحسین صابر" [The Room with Painted Ceiling, the First Pretext to Painting. Interview with Gholamhossein Saber], Angah (in Persian), Tehran (6){{citation}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  8. "گالری ها" [Galleries], Kayhane Sal (in Persian), Tehran, 1973{{citation}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  9. Parvaz, Mohammad Ali (1992). "کلک هنر ریز" [The Artful Quill]. Khabar Newspaper (in Persian). Shiraz, Iran.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  10. "مروری کوتاه بر زندگی و آثار غلامحسین صابر" [A Brief Review of Saber's Life and Works]. Khabar Newspaper (in Persian). Shiraz, Iran. 2005-05-19.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  11. Sedaghtkish, Arash (2019), "نقاشی معاصر شیراز" [Contemporary Painting in Shiraz], Herfeh: Honarmand (in Persian), Tehran (72){{citation}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  12. "بیدار کردن عشق به اطایف در آدمی" [Awakening the Love for Beauty in Men]. Hamshahri Newspaper (in Persian). Tehran. 1997-05-22.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  13. "آمیزه نقش و عکس در ذوق آزمایی هنرمند" [The Fusion of Painting and Photography in the Artist's Experimentations]. Kayhan Havaii Newspaper (in Persian). Tehran. 1997-05-21.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  14. "بزرگداشت نقاش و عکاس بزرگ شیراز استاد غلامحسین صابر" [Homage to the Great Shirazi Painter and Photographer, Gholamhossein Saber]. Tandis Visual Arts Biweekly (currently suspended) (in Persian). Tehran. 2005.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)

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