Saied Dai's work is predominantly based on observation. Steeped in art history, he takes an enormous amount of care with each painting. Tone, colour and of course drawing are the cornerstones of his work. As a portrait painter he possesses that rare ability to see beyond the obvious and reach into the very heart and soul of his subject, to find the truth behind the mask. These are the timeless values of the Old Masters, yet what strikes one immediately about Saied's work is its modernity, with its rich depth, harmony and perfect blending of visual elements.
In all his paintings there is a quiet strength, a feeling of profound meditation, of haunting subtleties, of poetry. Constable said that painting is another word for feeling. To Saied even the most mundane of subjects can hold magic and is treated with reverence.
As a portrait painter Saied is in high demand, and one can understand why. His 2013 portrait of Dame Monica Mason, Director of the Royal Ballet, is a masterpiece of intense observation, a semi-abstract cutting edge portrait, unorthodox and quite splendid.
Saied was born in Tehran in 1958 and came to England at the age of six. He studied at Bournemouth and later at the Royal Academy Schools under such luminaires as Peter Greenham and Norman Blamey. Here the diverse and demanding disciplines, all grounded in drawing, left an indelible mark. He was elected to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2004. Among many awards, Saied won the Ondaatje Prize for portraiture at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Society's Gold Medal, in 2006.