Artist/educator Mohammad Ehsai is one of the most renowned trendsetters in what is now called the art of calligraphic painting (Naghashi-khat) in the Middle East and specifically Iran. Rarely has the work of Mohammad Ehsai been discussed with an analytical eye or a refined method. Rather, his work has often been intellectually marginalized. By situating him in the modernization movement and culture of his time, this article intends to broaden the discourse both visually and from a theoretical point of view. Looking at Ehsai’s work as “a case study” for calligraphic art in Iran would probably satisfy many, but will be unmerited and lack sophistication. In regards to Iranian modern art, the perception of a link between spirituality, religion, government, and art works have led to art criticisms that stay away from concept analysis and instead focus more on physical and aesthetic aspects. Thus, many works of art are analyzed from visual points of view while the main spiritual content and the meanings are quite often disregarded. Original source materials that can provide local perspectives with critical texts about Ehsai’s work are scarce. Nevertheless, a comparative, interdisciplinary and cutting-edge approach, inspired by trans-regionalism, engrained in the anthropology of his visual culture, and supported by a sophisticated methodological perspective, is the inevitable objective. Ultimately the discussion of Ehsai’s art can be viewed as a vehicle for a multi-faceted approach in cross-cultural exchange.
In The Origin of Perspective (1994), Damisch puts forward an argument that painting is a form of spatial thinking. According to Ernst van Alphen (2005), the “thinking painting” stages thought not as a means, but as a valued process of re-thinking. If one approaches Ehsai’s works through the eyes of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Hubert Damisch, then one can call his paintings an intellectual process, a thinking and active work of art. By choosing abstract primary subjects such as words, thoughts and “ayat”, Ehsai’s works articulate a metaphysical tradition, its target being the viewers’ consciousness and the soul’s embodiment of vision. Inspired by the traditional geometric patterns of the Islamic art, its proportioning system, and Persian cursive scripts, Ehsai was able to create letters and compositions that enjoyed freedom of constructions as well as freedom of constituting different variations, thus establishing a new approach to execution of Persian calligraphic art.
Genres and categories affect the construction of the subject alongside the interpretation of a work. In order to avoid a certain “tyranny and hegemony of reference ” which can change Ehsai’s abstract paintings into an accepted familiar category, one can re-examine the conceptualization of his works. Ehsai’s calligraphic paintings conjure several simultaneous modes of looking. Our perception and interpretation is involved in several analyses, alternating between textual, abstract and geometrical analysis. Yet, no one single reading is enough. His paintings should not be interpreted through a single frame of reference. Ehsai’s emphasis has been on the perception of the art of calligraphy as a subjective art that can be expressive, offering an analysis of his works beyond mere visual elements. His view, from the beginning, is one that looks at both the outside and its physical relations intertwined with a vision directed towards an inner journey, blurring the dualism between object and subject. The viewer is presented with gestures that are emotional impressions of word, which by its nature is subjective and is meant to reflect a transcendental revelation.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty deconstructs the opposition between subject and object, between the visible and the invisible, and between the sensible and the ideal. (Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception. Paul Kegan, trans. Rutledge, 2003) He reexamines the subject-object relationship and looks at both the perceiver and the perceived as interdependent. This concept sees subject and object uniting dialectically within a more basic reality. According to Merleau-Ponty, word does not simply relay thought, it finalizes or completes, it. Language as a domain of signification is embodied in Ehsai’s work and as such soul and body become relative notions. The “narrativity” of Ehsai’s art is on the narrativity of word itself, and based on the concept that the mind is essentially ‘literary’ in nature.
According to Merleau-Ponty, the objective body and the phenomenal body constitute a reciprocal intertwining – where the “seer and the visible reciprocate one another and we no longer know which sees and which is seen”. Ehsai’s paintings might be situated in the physicality of his work and the perspective it takes the spectator to see, the space of the word occupied in the Islamic context and the visual architecture that he constructs in word.
Experiences of local culture
Ehsai’s Naghashi-khat as thinking image invites the viewer to observe the partiality inherent to perception. His painting rethinks the socially, traditionally and politically given certainty, rooted at the base of understanding the Persian and Islamic text. Ehsai’s works call for a kind of Islamic/Erfani contemplation that returns to premises of vision, perception, and knowledge. Erfan, which literally means knowing, is referred to Islamic mysticism and spiritual attainment of knowledge. His paintings reflect patterns of categorical recognition, and theorize the indirect essence of perception. However they collapse the visual dependency on predetermined knowledge, which is implied in the Islamic meaning of “word” and ayat.
Although aligned with the modernization movement of his time, Mohammad Ehsai’s calligraphic paintings did not receive enough international attention previous to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. To understand the reasons one must go back to the 1940s-1950s, the death of Kamal al-Mulk and the beginning efforts for a uniquely Iranian and yet modern art. This era was the end of the rigid formalism and adherence to the traditional painting styles. Under the supervision of Andre Godard, students were encouraged to create innovative works rather than imitations. Artists such as Marco Grigorian and galleries such as Apadana encouraged creation of a movement committed to modernism and international trends, yet grounded in Persian culture.
The 1960s and 1970s saw the emergence of Iranian artists in the international art scene. The quest for local and national identity necessitated a creative and innovative momentum that was aligned with the new international trends and developments and encouraged many artists to break ties with the past. Experimentation and originality was encouraged and ornamentation was rejected. Thus, in early 1960s at Kabud Atelier, Parviz Tanavoli and Hossein Zendehroudi, along with artists such as Sohrab Sepehri, Sirak Melkonian, and Manuchehr Sheibani, combined traditional elements of Iranian culture with the modern and international styles and Sagha-Khaneh style was coined. Sagha-Khaneh artists were among the first modernists who turned to the local culture.
Inspired by modern trends, Ehsai’s art was rooted in the Persian and Islamic art of calligraphy and as such was still regarded traditional and “too sacred”. Outside of a modern context, calligraphy was to serve the traditional aesthetic values with no need for critical examination. Spirituality was left to the so-called “traditional” artists to tackle. Thus, for years, despite his modern elements and his contemporary style, Ehsai’s art and other similar works remained excluded from the ongoing art historical discourse, which made it difficult to exhibit to an international audience. For years, an “elite” mentality looked at calligraphic-painting as substandard to modern international works and made it clear that modernism and its evolution in art translated only to avant-garde art, and it could not be “sacred” (1). Since paintings such as Ehsai’s did not conform to the set frameworks, they were thus excluded from American art historical discourse and he was safely contextualized as a calligrapher/graphic designer.
The 1979 Islamic Revolution brought about a reverse trend. Now, art was meant to promote the political culture of the Revolution and thus calligraphy became a newfound all-time favorite form of art. Stereotypical aesthetic representations of the revolutionary culture were perpetuated through works that reinforced the institutionalized meta-narratives. But even then “Islamic art” was conditional. Art had to be ‘serious and revolutionary,’ art had to be aligned with the new goals and aspirations of a revolutionary culture. Although it was a visible reflection of his culture, Ehsai’s art was still a separate entity. His style, with its compositional and spatial complexity, and spiritual narrative, inspired by traditional calligraphic customs was at times not “revolutionary” enough for the newly positioned art administrators and decision makers.
Further examination will reveal that Ehsai’s work transcended the preconceived notions of “Islamic” cultural homogeneity by being modern. His juxtaposition of letters with the appropriation of modern practices situates his work with those who are instrumental in recording the western influences through the experiences of local culture. A closer look enables one to re-contextualize his work and perceive it from different angles, due to his use of unconventional material and his efforts to constantly challenge the traditional calligraphic boundaries.
A process of translation
The market demand for the material consumption of local and exotic cultures, which results in the creation of art objects made by the Other and makes commodities out of local art forms, did not touch Ehsai’s art for many years to come; although his calligraphy was his “local narrative” long before it became a trend. His love for “Erfan-Shia” and his depictions of spiritual meanings through calligraphic painting reflected the realities of his Islamic upbringing and tradition and did not have to be staged. An analytical eye cannot but notice elements within a symbolic context often deployed as metaphor. In the shared linguistic world one can gesture in the direction of a word and be understood.
Although, the primordial level of language has to be approached by defining signs, Merleau-Ponty recognizes that word has a meaning and believes thought and word are intertwined. Similarly, Ehsai’s art becomes a process of translation when he selects poetry of Ferdowsi and Khayam, or characters such as Abu Zar or Salman Farsi for his calligraphy. His choices point to the strength of Abu Zar and Salman’s character, or nationalism of Ferdowsi and love of life celebrated in Khayam’s poetry. Here the choice of words and the significance of the symbolism is instrumental not from a traditional aesthetic point of view but for the subject matter, and the meanings it implies. Thus, his work transcends beyond the artistic merit and enters the realm of critical dialogue, and narrative making. Ehsai opens a “disclosive” space. He is no longer the “author”/calligrapher of Abu Zar, but he is opening up the possibilities of other discourse (2).
Today, a new form of orientalism and interest in Islamic contemporary art has energized museums, galleries, and American and European art institutions. After decades of art making and creative efforts made by artists in different Middle Eastern countries, Ehsai’s art, along with the works of many other masters have recently become extremely expensive commodities in the international art market. However, the market acts as a conditional “preserver”, to the point that domains of discursivity are pushed and entered with greater attempts in order to inscribe identities, to formulate and redirect ideologies, and to deconstruct unpopular and risky narratives. As such, Iranian ethnicity is simulated for use by the mass media and popular culture both inside and outside of Iran (3).
Ehsai’s art and his artistic identity should be examined in such light. In such a context his abstracted method of self-expression should be fully celebrated without ignoring the original language of his sacred art. Through incorporating the message of “faith” in both form and content, Ehsai’s art becomes committed to a spiritual quest to unravel the Divine Beauty etched in the believer’s soul, contesting many secular views. One may be tempted to criticize his meta-narrative. However, a more balanced understanding will question such skepticism. Here, one must be cautious of the self-refuting contemporary discourse that may de-value the ‘Truth seeking”, spirituality, and morality engrained in Ehsai’s work. Such paradoxical reasoning, by its nature, contradicts the critique of the meta-narrative. The application of theoretical tools, for review of Ehsai’s artistic spirituality necessitates “interpretation” and thus, creates yet other meta-narratives.
Negotiating the Word
In the Quranic traditions the essential aim of calligraphy is the remembrance of the Revelation. The Word (Kalama) is the vehicle of Revelation. With revelation comes responsibility to cause an awakening of consciousness. While each human being is created differently, a pure soul is able to reflect the Totality. Thus each person has a singular receptivity to the creator enabling him to express many sacred Names of the Divine, which inevitably leads to creation of the sacred art of calligraphy. Through the years, Ehsai has developed a detailed procedure for generating precise and accurate constructions of his particular style of calligraphic painting. He has a unique method of transforming the traditional Persian cursive scripts and procedures into his own exact visual signature, culminating in an abstracted method of self-expression that best serves his particular artistic language without negating the original premise of the sacred art of calligraphy, including the Quranic premise of compatible and opposing pairs (4). His unique measuring and dividing methods employed in his writing process, his technique in organization and division of space and its use in construction of letters and forms, and his innovative concepts of proportion, ratio, and symmetry revolutionized the traditional techniques of calligraphy in Iran. Ehsai applied many of the traditional geometric principles and concepts of “the repeat unit” in Islamic and Persian design and produced fresh overall compositions that consequently perfected the efforts of his previous masters.
Ehsai’s art can be classified as sacred due to the fact that it is meant to cause repercussions in the human soul toward transcendence and spirituality. In order to locate this sacred art and its transformation in the work of Mohammad Ehsai, one must consider that in Ehsai’s artistic endeavor spiritual inspiration has always been a presupposition. By means of transcendence of the soul and by its nature, there is always an impersonal element present in creating sacred art. One of the characteristics of such art is surrendering the self (ego) to the power of the Divine (5).
The purpose of the Quranic calligraphy is to provide a visual blessing for the soul, so that it can be penetrated and exalted by the Divine light of ‘ayah” or “sign (of God)’ (6). Within such contexts, at times, the legibility and the visual abstraction of letters become acceptable in relation to the validity and the serendipity of the blessing. The above notion describes Ehsai’s style of abstracting the Quranic words, and signifies the root of his abstraction, the ease of it, and the intended point of departure that is confidently taken by the educator Ehsai toward stretching the limits of legibility in the sacred art of calligraphy. This validity is what Ehsai tries to negotiate.
In Ehsai’s work a deep and intimate process of art making happens, by which he approaches the Divine core of the Quranic word and relays this message according to each person’s capacity. In the Islamic tradition the inscription of ayat, reading, thinking and observing them is a profound practice. On the surface one can see ayah, as sign, or a phenomenal thing. However, similar to other multi-layer aspects of the word one should not assume it to be only an unchanging sign. The mind, the world and the physical body are mutually engaged in a perceiving mode. Thus ayah has a mutual complementary relationship between the subjective body/brain in the world around us and our preconceptual understandings.
According to Merleau-Ponty, all consciousness is perceptual. All understanding is based on meaningful relationships between phenomena involvements that exist around us. Ayah not only has an independent perception, but its recognition is based on its reflection to other. Perceptions project the potential angles of ayah. In this way our perceptions are not clearly defined perceptions; rather, each ayah is the mirror of other ayahs based on our understanding of the world around us. The question that can be posed here is if “ayah” by itself is absolute, essential, eternal, implicating reality, and therefore an ontological property of a thing. Or is it changeable and therefore an interpretive relational concept, depending on other contexts and associations. With such reasoning, a visual inquiry is thus thinking, and a process where things acquire significance. Accordingly, one can see Ehsai’s art as embedded and inextricable from experiences of his local culture. With the same reasoning, his style implies consideration of a shared cognition and consensus of meanings.
Integrating pictorial and perceptual elements
Reaffirming both concepts of universal and local art, Ehsai’s quest for a personal narrative, inspired by “Erfan” and Shia historical experiences, took the form of Naghashi-khat, which was grounded in the cohabitation with various homegrown traditions. Ehsai tirelessly transformed and developed this traditional art by manipulating modernist’s issues of simplicity, individuality, tension, and playfulness to create his own modern yet sacred art. However this newfound freedom of expression was not purely mechanical. It necessitated a profound knowledge and experience, in addition to a sincere belief in the absolute Beauty and Truth along with a sacred faith in the Divine significance engrained in the Islamic calligraphic tradition.
Being a trendsetter in his field, Ehsai daringly embraced the modernist movement of the 1960s in Iran. He borrowed from many accepted elements of the traditional calligraphy and made his art lighter more dynamic and more expressive while at the same time using elements of Persian and Kufi scripts such as bold and horizontal strokes. Many of Ehsai’s works adhere to a certain solemnity, which thoroughly compensates for being planned in advance, suggestive of celestially mysterious nature of the original Quranic Revelation. However, many of his modern work can be situated in the context of abstract impressionist and gestural paintings of the 1960s, as well. They conjure associations to European painterly abstraction of the 1960’s. As a trendsetter, Ehsai was able to manipulate a framework for breaking away from the established techniques of calligraphic expression. Using his unrestrained freedom, he was able to experiment with new and different paint materials and inscribe with new mediums.
Ehsai’s mastery is embodied in his realization of a wide range of possibilities of form, color and composition in regards to prolongation, overlapping and diversion of letters. His cursive calligraphy holds a sublime fluidity that celebrates symmetrical duplication. Very often in the filled space and the empty space, the composition and the background become visually of equivalent value and balance each other, encouraging the viewer not to stop on a particular element of composition. This technique is also combined with a unique interlacing style, with graphically rich knots, that possess a complex and rhythmic quality. The repetition and consistency of interlacing letters invite the viewer to move on and experience the rhythmic flow and regularity of the whole composition that adds the modern abstraction to his style. Repetition of letters and plurality of forms create echoes of the Quranic verse ”wherever you turn, there is the face of God’, implying the notion of multiple layers through which ’oneness’ can be achieved. Celebrating “Zekr”, by multiple appearances of letters and forms, the concept of “Unity of Being’ is emphasized.
Ehsai’s woven letters sometimes come from single source or bands and sometimes radiate from many identical centers (7). The idea of Divine Unity in all things (that without a second) is beyond representation and thus is signified through the harmony found in multiplicity of these letters. The complex interlocking elements express such underlying Unity in the world around us.
The phonetic nature of Persian and Arabic script lends itself to an abstract and non-representational stylization of the decoration and interiors of Islamic structures (8). Thus, calligraphy and abstracted compositions are normally used to convey the purpose of the structure. Ehsai’s calligraphy for architectural sites enables him to achieve the appropriate effects and thus a totality of purpose in his artistic creations. His work has a multiform character that enables him to turn to each style anytime the occasion arises. Depending on the nature and context of texts he can produce contrasting styles and inscriptions side by side.
Ehsai’s letters are ordinarily abstracted without figurative representations. He combines all the distinctive shape of the characters with the fluidity of the whole, integrating rhythmic nature of the signs without isolating them. As such starting from right, as the field of action, the characters unfold and move towards the left, which is the region of the heart, implying a progression from the outward world to the inward. Whereas the vertical movements represent the dimension of the Divine Essence, the horizontal movements of the letters correspond to change and becoming, and consequently represent the Divine Attributes. The vertical aspect is seen to unite and signify the essence, while the horizontal elements divide, by spreading out into multiplicity. Both are meant to reaffirm the oneness of being in which the Essence and the Attributes of the Divine are one and the same (9).
In a mass culture where control of means and ownership shape the artistic tastes, where creative activity becomes passive and standardized as commercial commodity, where homogeneous cultures are encouraged, and the markets dictate repetitive and unchallenging art, art making has to be “commercially successful” to be worthy of discourse. Such circumstances do not allow for moments where word and vision register each other. The market is not interested in the association between the visual and the verbal or the reinstatement of the Quranic verses. It does not examine how the transcendental ‘signified’ can be the “sign”, or how commercial artists are lead to repress the ”sign” and separate the Essence from the Attribute. In such times, in an art scene that only encourages marketable art tailored to appeal to a specific kind of client, can Ehsai and other contemporary artists of his caliber inspire and facilitate a change in a culture that values commodity art?
Ehsai’s art, focused on enlightenment, “the care of the self”, and the importance of human freedom, has always transformed his audience. The ultimate question is, what in the lucrative practices of today’s art market can keep them from becoming objects and “resources’?
In summary, Ehsai’s meticulous working method in calligraphic painting always sustains fascination. In Ehsai’s work the thought is not detachable from what is presented by the work. In other words the perceptions and the concepts are attached together. Perceptions are inseparable from the thinking and imagining that sees his painting. Ehsai’s paintings are “read” and “experienced” on an interpretive and a perceptual level.
In order to properly assess the full measure of his achievement many of his paintings can be looked at as modern gestural works as well. Yet his measured rhythm and motion continually invites the viewer to contemplate the spiritual. Ehsai’s mastery, his love of formal principles, and his fidelity to concise and rich traditional characteristics of Islamic and Persian calligraphy, results in a distinguishable and unique style that embraces a modernist diversity and continually experiments with new innovations©.
Hengameh Fouladvand ©
Center for Iranian Modern Arts, NY
(1)-For further discussion about the reluctance behind selection of certain spiritual works, i.e. at MOMA, please see Maurice Tuchman, The Spiritual in Art, Abstract painting, 1890-1985,
(2)- Abu Zar al-Ghaffari, or Abu Dhar al-Ghaffari, one of Sahabeh of Rasoul Akram and among the four original followers of Amir ul Momenin. Salman al-Farsi, Abu Zar Ghaffari, Miqdad bin Aswad and Ammar Al Yasir were always seen in the company of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, and came to be known as the Shia (followers) of Ali. AbuZar was famous for being pure, truthful and candid at the risk of disapproval of others.
(3)- Ethnicity as Spectacle; Effacing the Iranian Cultural Contour through Visual Arts, Hengameh Fouladvand, Tavoos Quarterly, No.8
(4)-(Male and female), Qur’an, Sureh 49: Ayeh13
(5)- Therefore, it is only fitting that many sacred artists of the past, deliberately, stayed anonymous. Here we should also consider that the traditional “modernist” approach to cognition assumed a split subject-object relationship (between the knower and the known) that often suggested a dualism in mind and body. Thus the unrealized-self was seen as a separate entity and an artificial creation of modernity. Recent theories suggest that we are shaped by linguistic patterns, fragments of meanings and personal experiences. Since meaning is not fixed, there is no unitary self. Many theories of “self” & “conscious-self” concentrate more on scientific explanation of “mental” and “physical” and focus on brain and its processes. Many recent theories emphasize the fact that nothing can be understood as an isolated entity but signs or phenomena should be looked at as integrated parts of the whole. Carroll, Roz, 2001 ‘The New Anatomy; an Exploration of the Body Systems Integrating Neuroscience, psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
Also Panksepp, J, 1998, Affective Neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions, Oxford University Press
(6)-Qur’an Sureh Ra’d (Thunder) 13: Ayat 1& 2
(7)- Repetition of letters signifies the importance of “Zekr”, needed for preservation of Qur’an Majeed. See Sureh 15 Ayah 9, for the importance of Zekr. To the Shia community the true meaning of Zekr is the Velayat of Amir ul-momenin Ali, according to Tafsireh Qomi. According to Tafsireh Kafi, English translation Seyed Imdad Hossein kazemi, based on the 8th Shia Imam “Zekr” is Rasoul Akram and thus Moslems are ‘Ahl ul-Zekr’. See Sureh 65: Ayah 10.
Regarding different meanings of Zekr, new discussions in neuroscience can also broaden our horizon. Reality is perceived by expectations and preconceptions of the observer. Jeffrey Schwartz, from school of Medicine at UCLA, and physicist Henry Stapp were able to link the QZE with the power of contemplation. QZE- (Quantum Zeno Effect) was explained in 1977 by George Sudarshan and is related to the observer effect in quantum physics, which describes that behavior and position of any atom size entity (such as an atom, electron, or an ion) changes when that entity is observed. Over time paying enough attention to any specific brain connection, [in other words remembrance, focus, and Zekr] will keep the relevant paths open. We perceive what we expect to experience. The density of our attention brings the QZE into play and causes new brain circuitry to be stabilized and formed. This is called self-directed neuroplasticity.
The basic oneness of the universe is not only the main characteristic of an “Erfani” experience it is also among the most important themes of modern subatomic physics. We now know that the constituents of matter are all interconnected, interdependent and interrelated. On the inseparable interconnectedness of the whole universe as the fundamental reality please refer to D. Bohm & B. Hiley ‘On the Intuitive Understanding of Nonlocality as Implied by Quantum Theory” Vol. 5, pp 96-102
Also Jeffrey M. Schwartz, MD & Henry P. Stapp, and Mario Beauregard,” Quantum Physics in Neuroscience and Psychology: A Neurophysical model of the Mind–Brain Interaction”, 2005. In addition, Jeffrey M. Schwartz, MD and Sharon Begley, The mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the power of Mental Force, Regan books, 2002.
(8)-Qur’an, Sureh 8 (Anfal): Ayah 31. It should be noted that in the Quranic tradition reflected in the Islamic architecture, although there are literal meanings considered for ayat, metaphors should not be applied to the names and attributes of Allah. It is a sign of intellectual sophistication to think of Allah as an abstract concept
(9)-For a deeper understanding of the topic of Essence and Attributes of the Divine, please refer to a discussion of Tohid in Nahj-ul-Balagheh translated by Seyed Mohammad Askari Jafari, Published by Islamic Seminary publications, 1999 and in Farsi translation of Nahj-ul Balagheh of Feiz ul Islam. Also Naser Ahmadzadeh, publisher Ashrafi, 2000.
Hengameh Fouladvand is a New York-based artist/scholar and the Executive Director of Center for Iranian Modern Arts (CIMA). Ms. Fouladvand has received her post-graduate degree from California State University. She has written numerous scholarly papers on Iranian art and has been chair or panelist at various national and International conferences. Her work has been exhibited at Lindenberg Gallery, La Maison France at Columbia University, the Guild Hall Museum, Port Washington Public Library, Fleet Bank Corporate Headquarters, Heckscher Museum, Islip McArthur Airport, Long Island University, and numerous other public and private venues. Fouladvand has been Profiled by: Voice of America, The Encyclopedia of Living Artists, the 1988 New York Art Review, Artnews, Suffolk Life, Newsday, Long Islander, Kelk, Gardoun, Doniya-e-Sokhan, Payvand-Montreal, Kayhan-London, iranian.com, BBC, and Tavoos Quarterly. She is a member of Editorial Board of Tavoos Bilingual Quarterly, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Honorary Committee of Iranian Alliances Across Border. Fouladvand has recently completed the art entries of IranToday Encyclopedia, published by Greenwood Press, 2008.