Choosing SURVIVAL as a theme for this exhibition, Mojgan Endjavi-Barbé has picked her artists from Iran's contemporary arts scene. Three generations of artists who, like their predecessors, have mastered the art of self-expression without getting involved in social or political trends. All belonging to the post-revolution generation, the artists have the art of survival through the thick and thin of life in Iran, as well as developing their very own unique styles.
In any turbulent social, political and geographical landscape, self-expression may have unwanted and costly consequences, and yet, through centuries, Iranian artists have carefully crafted their own unique multi-layered, indirect and sophisticated approach to self-expression.
Through war, conflict, confrontation, deprivation and constant upheaval, the signature behaviour of almost all Iranians may be the odd level of awareness they have of their surroundings. An indirect and sometimes passive-aggressive approach which doubles as a survival skill.
The artist Amir Farhad explains: "The survivor is an outsider. He is from here but not of here. He is contemporary but not of the day. He is familiar but not one of us. The survivor is an outsider. 'Survivor' is a controversial term. A person born in the Middle East will always be a survivor throughout his life. A survivor of centuries of religious and political dominance. A survivor of wars that occur all around, wars over oil and ideology, and wars over tradition and modernity. My generation is the survivor of street combats, a struggle for freedom from the dominion of conventions and laws. At the same time, the Iranian artist is a survivor of conflicts between Eastern and Western traditions, an East that no longer wants him, and a West that considers him an outsider. My job is to depict this struggle for existence. It is to express on pieces of paper, these enmities that require peace more than war. I want to have everything all at once. These things show up in my work in the form of disfigured masses merged into one another. I am not alone here. There is a world of survivors living here with me. Survivor is not a vague concept, it is just very complex. I am an outsider who does not scream; I only whisper."
"Survivors" includes works of: Sadegh Tirafkan's photographs from the 'Endless Series'; Houman Mortazavi's 'Self-Defense' series; Amir Farhad's ink on paper & silk screen; Vahid Jafarnejad's paintings; Yasser Mirzaee's "War Paintings", also a joint photo project by Ramyar Manoucherzadeh and Ali Nadjian – 'We live in a Paradoxical Society'.
Via Endjavi-Barbé Art Projects