International contemporary artist Davood Roostaei is the founder of a revolutionary painting style called Cryptorealism. This new aesthetic not only incorporates elements of other styles and periods of painting, but transcends them; it is simultaneously abstract and representational, symbolic and ambiguous. The best way to describe this technique is through the observance of one of his original creations. At first sight, the painting overwhelms viewers with condensed splashes of rich color and is seemingly tachist and abstract; once viewers step back to view the painting from a distance, however, they soon discover that representational meaning lies hidden in a maze of abstraction. Close observation reveals messages and symbols embedded in each work of art.  

He is of royal decent. His ancestors once sat upon the legendary Peacock Throne and ruled Persia for more than a century. He became a master rather early on in his home country, but he did attend a very special art academy there. He spent two years in jail, and it was there in solitary confinement and the dark cell where he discovered his inner eye as the source of his artistic inspiration. After being released he managed to escape to Germany. Since then he has been working tirelessly on himself, his artistic mission, and developing his own unique style of painting, called cryptorealism. This method reconciles the major currents of contemporary art, realism and abstraction, and at the same time, spans the bridge between the Orient and the Occident, between the deeply rooted fear of images in Judaism and Islam and the passionate love of images in the West. 


In Cryptorealism he not only reconciles the two most important modern art styles of the West, Realism and Abstract painting, but unites in his style two even bigger contraditions i.e., the love of pictorial art and the very glut of it in the Occident with the Jewish and Moslem prohibition of artistic likenesses and of representations of images. Davood Roostaei’s style of painting removes from the pictures all that is apparent and superficial. They are not likenesses or copies, but they look behind things, behind the world of simple appearances. They make light visible which is not from this world, the glow and the glory of the divine. Davood Roostaei’s Cryptorealism gives back their sacredness to God’s creatures and his creation.

Central to the Cryptorealist movement is the rejection of an art market that desires objects based solely upon aesthetic pleasure; subscribers instead believe that works of art should be a forum to transmit a socially conscious message. The message is diverse, covering an expanse of social, political, cultural, and spiritual issues. This technique combines religious and cultural influences from the East and West into a universal message about the elevation of mankind through peace and mutual respect. It reflects upon the reluctance of imagery present in some Eastern cultures in relation to the West’s love of imagery and icons, and looks for symbols that unify all cultures. 

Such an innovative style requires an innovative technique. Roostaei utilizes a process of painting in which the artist uses his own hands to apply the paint. Interacting with the art materials so intimately, allows the artist to reinforce his bond with each work. 

This method further dissolves the barriers between the artist and the work of art, which is fitting a Cryptorealism aims to inspire togetherness. A discovery like this one doesn’t come overnight; Roostaei first studied many other methods, trying his hand at techniques ranging from classical renaissance frescoes to surrealism. When none of these methods satisfied his desire for a style that met the demands of a contemporary world in the throes of globalization, he created a new one. 

In 1907, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso initiated the avant-garde concept of Cubism. In the 1920s, André Breton pioneered the Surrealist movement. In 1947, Jackson Pollock invented “action painting. And in the 21st Century, Davood Roostaei discovered yet another groundbreaking movement: Cryptorealism. 

Davood Roostaei’s picture "Nirvana“ painted in 1994 shows his Cryptorealistic painting style in its masterly perfection. The colours are brilliant and are thrown into relief by their manner of application which makes them as dynamic as if they were composed of lava, liquid and not yet hardened. They seem to have an inner glow.


The source of this heat is the bleeding heart of the artist. Davood Roostaei’s painting is an effort, inspired by the spirit of mysticism, to look behind the world of appearances and to penetrate the mystery of creation.

The first part of the picture shows the world in its primal state, in statu nascendi. With the bullfight, the artist has taken up a theme used by mankind in its art since ancient times. The bull has the same status as the matador, and looks him in the eyes. It realises its own God-given strength which it can use for good or evil. 

The man struggles with his fate as with the bull and reaches in a Zaroastrian gesture towards the sun. 

Lightning flashes through the picture, bringing to mind the big bang of divine creation. The lightning forms an “A“ standing for ‘Anfang’ (the beginning) of life. 

On the upper edge of the picture, a coffin can be seen borne by the four seasons. Scarcely brought into this world, a person reaches adulthood, comes to his prime and is aged. He departs this world imperfect and incomplete. 

If the picture is turned 90 degrees then one believes one sees a symbolic presentation of the whole of the world’s history. From behind Nolte’s

 head projects the sword of a warrior. Jesus hangs unconscious on the cross. An eagle sets off towards the sun to fly into space.

The associations are dim, chaos dominates, darkness replaces the light. Among the many symbols are the black-red-gold colours of the German flag. But the colours do not stand alone, they have a double and triple meaning and at the same time form the components for other images.

If “Nirvana“ is turned upside down then the viewer is at first perplexed. Here the mystery of life is unveiled and is completely unsolvable. The lightning has become a divining rod. In the right side the ark of Noah, the first prophet, floats past. A court jester grins ambiguously. A dove of peace drinks from a puddle of blood. the panorama is full of signs, secrets and mysteries which remain unsolved. 

If the picture is finally turned 270 degrees, the viewer stands before a vision of the judgement of the world. The coffin is empty, the person has arisen from the grave. An angel, brighter and lighter than the Barlach angel, soars upward. The cross is upside down, death is conqured. A great fish represents evolution, development from the first form of life up to mankind. From the sum-total of all life lived evolves a new creation, a new life, a new man as a perfect radiant form. The last days will be a new beginning. Sperm-like flecks show that out of the debris of the old world comes the seed for a new beginning. The cycle of God’s creation has been completed to be continued on a new, higher level nearer to God.