A collection of contemporary Iranian art offers a glimpse of artists that capture wide-range of idioms in their visual and narrative content.
The collective exhibition at Dar Al Funoon gallery brought together works by four contemporary Iranian artists. Participating artists were Mahmood Sabzi, Maryam Iranpanah, Sasan Gharedaghlou, and Hawar Amini. The works were woven together by nostalgia for the native land that transcends geographical boundaries.
Artist Mehmood Sabzi was born in Iran and was forced to go into exile during the Khomeini regime. He traveled first to Germany and then to the United States; a turning point in his career. Living in different countries helped Sabzi to explore new artistic influences and thus one finds a concurrence of Persian themes with modernism in his figurative and abstract work.
Sabzi has been profoundly inspired by the likes of Klee, Cezanne, Matisse and Bonnard, stalwarts of modernism as well as from the mystical poetry of Rumi.
The artist, currently living in the US, is caught in multi-layered paradoxes, chasing the American dream, while still besotted with his native Iran. A closer look at his oeuvre reveals a deep connection with his roots and issues of identity and nostalgia that permeate his canvases. Mired in nostalgia, Sabzi’s complex artworks chronicle frames within frames, and an imagery of intermingling of ‘betwixt and between’ two diverse cultures.
Women have always held a special place in the artist’s work. Images of iconic Marilyn Monroe and wistful nostalgia with Iran abound in his work. The painting “The Night”, mixed media on canvas, represents Sabzi’s unique and powerful artistic vision. The subtle traditional themes flirt with Monroe’s image and accentuate magic that only a virtuoso can bring to the fine art of painting.
Says Dr Abbas Daneshvari, Professor of Art History at California State University, “In Sabzi’s paintings spaces of one world are filled with images from another. Forms circulate with irresistible energies even though they have risen from diverse psychological grounds.”
As is typical for him, Sabzi invites the viewer to participate in his experience in a way that can prompt an honest introspection on identity, migration and movement. His work titled “Wait until tomorrow”, “Marilyn”, and “Fusion”, mixed media on canvas, explore poetics of movement and migration, and are some of the strongest works. These stand apart for being part nostalgic, part narratives that speak to a contemporary audience.
In contrast, there is a riot of emotions in Hawar Amini’s somber works. His work hints at a story and it is what he leaves untold that engages the viewer. In his works, Amini brings together his personal thoughts on this tragic turbulence and it’s after effects. With memory and recollection, this sensitive artist explores the turmoil through multiplicity of silhouettes in his monochromatic works and raises the questions of loss, grief and anxiety.
On the other hand, Maryam Iranpanah’s, works are as much about color and composition as they are about candid explorations of nostalgia. Her artworks are marked by exuberance, and theatrical effects that resonate with diaspora and nostalgia. Daneshvari describes Iranpanah’s work as representative of “humanized perspective wherein memory persists across cultural zones.”
Sasan Gharedaghlou is a prolific calligrapher and his interplay of lines and colors create visual dynamics that are at once appealing and very imposing. His large scale, colorful works, beaming with tranquility and nuance are meticulously rendered.
Creating an interesting blend of past, and present, the defining artworks of the show were the selections depicting Sasan Gharedaghlou’s “Untitled”, acrylic on canvas, Hawar Amini’s “Untitled”, acrylic on paper and Mahmood Sabzi’s “American Magic”, mixed media on canvas, that successfully manage to engage the viewer in a dialogue.
These works reflect at once the individual achievements of each artist, but also the richness and diversity of the Iranian artists.
Dar Al Funoon Gallery is located in Behbehani Compound, House No: 28, Al Watiah. For more information, please call 2243 3138.