Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Reza Derakhshani's works evoke Iran's magnificent past

In Titanic 1979, Reza Derakhshani says, a crown in a sea of blue and poetry by Hafiz represent the sinking of culture, dynasties and civilisation. Photos courtesy Salsali Private Museum and The National.

by , The National

If you want a reason to visit Reza Derakhshani's solo show at Salsali Private Museum, the fact that the main installation has completely changed since it was unveiled during Art Week is a good one.

The black-sand snakes that the artist shaped with a common house brush before the opening in March have been swept away and replaced with skulls that lie at the base of the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. The area has also been curtained off and filled with black light. To see the glowing shape of Pasargadae, you must peek through cut-out eyeholes. Its dynamism, colour and theme summarise the exhibition.

The exhibit was originally planned as a retrospective show, but Derakhshani was not content with something so static, so he took his old paintings, characterised by vivid colours and Persian iconography, and created new ones. The mostly monochrome and muted tones illustrate dark internal processes that stem from the destruction Derakhshani is witnessing in his homeland.

"Being sensitive, you cannot escape it," he says in a slow and thoughtful manner that reflects his pensive creativity. "I'm not into political slogans but to a certain point I don't mind if it is expressed it in a poetic way."

Monday, 29 April 2013

Politics and Art of Iran’s Revolutionary Tulips

by Garrett Nada, The Iran Primer

Their petals are on the national flag. They line the dome above Ayatollah Khomeini’s tomb. They adorn billboards of martyrs from the war with Iraq. They have been depicted on coins and postage stamps. And hotels, parks and restaurants are named after them. In Iran, the tulip―laleh in Farsi―is ubiquitous.

Tulips on stamp by Rozita. Courtesy The Iran Primer.

The Flag's Tulip

The tulip became one the most common symbols of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Its new flag featured a red tulip in the center to commemorate the revolution’s martyrs. The sword and the four crescent-shaped petals form the word “Allah” and symbolize the five pillars of Islam― faith, prayer, charity, fasting during Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Flag of Iran. Courtesy The Iran Primer.

The revolution has always had a soft spot for the fragile spring flower, a symbol of martyrdom in Shiite Islam. In early Shiism's history, the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Hossein fell in battle against the Umayyad Dynasty near Karbala, now part of modern Iraq. Tulips sprang from Hossein’s blood, according to tradition.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Iranian film-maker Mohammad Shirvani takes aim at weighty issues

Fat Shaker, a surreal film about an obese and oppressive father and his son, is a refection on wider frustrations and corruption

Levon Haftvan in Mohammad Shirvani's Fat Shaker. Courtesy Guardian.

by , Guardian

There is something about the way he breathes, about the way he carries the weight around his waist, and the way his lips hang from his face.

Levon Haftvan's physique is as heavy as his acting, and he is ideally cast in Mohammad Shirvani's latest feature, Fat Shaker (2012). The strange, frustrating, dreamlike story of the relationship between a father (Haftvan) and his deaf son (Hassan Rostami), unsettled by the entrance of a young woman (Maryam Palizban), defies expectations and exercises a daring liberty in the process. The film gained international attention when it won one of the Hivos Tiger awards at the Rotterdam film festival, and it became the first Iranian feature to be screened at the Sundance film festival.

Although the plot may sound recycled at first (man and boy meet woman, compete for her attention), it is actually more nuanced and psychologically puzzling. The obese father's indolent patriarchal attitude and weary demeanour as he freely lies, grifts, and abuses his son are windows to a deeper distress that perhaps comes from his corrupted surroundings in Iran, a country engulfed in an economic crisis, troubled leadership, and a frustrated society. The few instances of actual plot are mere landscapes to locate the film in Iran. In the city, for example, we witness the father posing as a basiji (a member of the paramilitary forces, the basij, who often act as morality police) using his son to con young women. Later on, the tables turn at the villa when a basiji officer bursts in and, with icy confidence, harasses the father and son for possessing alcohol.

Throughout, the innocent eyes of the son – played with precise harmony by Rostami, who is deaf in real life – reveal more than just care and submission; they warn of an impending crisis. And Palizban, portraying the only female character, carries the burden of womanhood within a masculine gaze, fulfilling the "exotic female" role, yet with a distinctly subversive and mysterious presence. At one moment, witnessing an act of irrational contempt, she slaps one of the men so hard it makes him bleed.

State of the Art

Recent auctions of Middle Eastern art by renowned London houses Sotheby's and Christie's are only the latest triumph in the Iranian and Arab world's resurgent art scenes.

Detail of “Sada” (From the Graphèmes Series) by Nja Mahdaoui. “Sada” is one of the 47 works. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s and Asharq Al Awsat.

by , Asharq Al Awsat

Million-dollar art sales are happening at the moment. You might ask what is so new about that, even in a time of recession. This is contemporary Arab art, and the location is the Gulf. Christie’s held two auctions in Dubai on April 16 and 17 totaling USD 6.4 million, and Sotheby’s had another yesterday, April 22, that was expected to raise a total in excess of USD 11 million, and achieved the strong total of USD 15,199,750.

Lina Lazaar Jameel, Sotheby’s international contemporary art specialist, said of yesterday’s auction: “Doha is a hugely exciting art hub of the MENA region, and the sale presents exemplary works by extremely important artists.”

In Dubai, where another highly successful Art Dubai fair has just ended, Michael Jeha, managing director of Christie’s in the Middle East, said that their auction proved that “the market responds extremely well to carefully curated sales with great works by artists of high caliber.” He also noted “the increasing interest of international buyers and the maturing of an ever-increasing group of informed and committed local collectors.”

This is fascinating. Not only are international buyers—museums, collectors and investors—swooping like hawks, but there has been a significant increase in the number of buyers from the region. Furthermore, neither group will accept anything but first-class art, of which there is so much, covering such a wide area: not only the Middle East, but also North Africa, Iran and Turkey.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Arts Writers Grantee Negar Azimi on “Bidoun” and the Iranian Avant-Garde

Merce Cunningham’s Persepolis, performed at the Shiraz Festival of the Arts, Iran, 1972. Courtesy Creative Capital

by Kareem Estefan, Creative Capital

Negar Azimi, whose project The Shahbanou and the Iranian Avant-Garde won a 2012 Arts Writers grant (Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program) in the book category, is senior editor of Bidoun, an award-winning publishing, curatorial, and educational initiative with a focus on the Middle East. Irreverent and conceptually adventurous, Bidoun magazine covers an eclectic array of art and culture: its latest, #28, features an interview with Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben about pets and animals, and a conversation with Larry Gagosian in which Azimi turns the art magnate’s attention away from the market to the Armenian diaspora of which he is an influential, but under-recognized part. In addition to her work with Bidoun, Azimi has written for Artforum, friezeHarper’s, the Nation and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications. I asked her about what’s next for Bidoun and how the idea for her forthcoming book came about.

Kareem Estefan: Bidoun was founded in 2004 as a magazine focused on art and culture from the Middle East. Since then, it’s also functioned as a library, a curatorial initiative, and an educational space with arts writing workshops. Having expanded from a little-known publication to an internationally recognized hub for various critical and curatorial activities, can you reflect on Bidoun‘s mission and what’s next for you?

Negar Azimi: We’re approaching our tenth anniversary, so we’re currently thinking through where we’ve been and where we’re going. I think, in part, we hope to become an incubator for all sorts of projects. You’ve probably noticed that our version of the Middle East includes Los Angeles, Detroit, New Delhi…we’d like to carry this forward by nurturing projects with partners who, like us, think expansively about culture, whether they’re our own fantastic contributing editors or people from outside of our immediate network. It’s an exciting moment. We’re preparing an exhibition about Reza Abdoh, an Iranian-American avant-garde theater director who died of AIDS in the 1990s, for Artists Space. We’re also staging sort of the apotheosis of the Bidoun library for the 2013 Carnegie International. And we are in the final phases of translating Bidoun # 25, which was made in Egypt, to Arabic and thinking about launch events around that. We’re also going to launch a new web site, which is still in its planning phases.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Drawing Fire

Iran's sketches of satire

Satire still thriving, Produced for the book "Sketches of Iran: A Glimpse from the Front Lines of Human Rights", this cartoon by Touka Neyestani is entitled "Forced Confession." Courtesy CNN.

by Sara Mojtehedzadeh, CNN 

In 2003, former newspaper editor Ali Reza Eshraghi made a mistake that cost him his freedom: he published a cartoon. 

The sketch in question, a drawing from 1937 depicting U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt's pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court, seemed an innocuous choice for the Iranian newspaper, Hayat No.

But Iran's Special Court for the Clergy disagreed. According to Reporters Without Borders it ruled that that the cartoon's depiction of Roosevelt looked suspiciously like the Islamic Republic's founder Ayatollah Khomeini and was insulting to his memory.

The court shut down Hayat No, and Eshraghi spent nearly two months in prison.
A decade later, Eshraghi's friend and former colleague, journalist Omid Memarian, decided to honor the pressures placed on satirists in a book entitled, "Sketches of Iran: A Glimpse from the Front Lines of Human Rights."

The book, published in January by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, was informed by Memarian's conviction that political cartoons played a unique role in his country's struggle for democracy.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Rediscovering the beauty of language

Nima Behnoud gives Persian calligraphy a contemporary twist using vivid colours and emphasising inherent geometric forms
Talisman. Courtesy Gulf News

by Jyoti Kalsi, Gulf News

New York-based Iranian artist Nima Behnoud’s work is inspired by Persian culture and calligraphy. In his first ever exhibition, Behnoud is showcasing a series of silk-screen prints on paper that feature verses from famous poet Rumi, references to Persian history and mythology, pre-Islamic Iranian motifs, calligraphic letters and Islamic arabesque patterns. But the vivid colours he has used, the way he has juxtaposed the different elements, and his emphasis on geometric forms rather than the meaning of the words gives these artworks a contemporary look.

“I have a huge collection of old Iranian and Middle Eastern manuscripts, books, royal seals, stamps and stone carvings obtained from antique stores and flea markets around the world. The writings, motifs and figures in my artworks have been reproduced from these items. But I always try to present the ancient Iranian and Middle Eastern culture in a modern way so that everybody can appreciate its beauty regardless of whether they understand the words and symbols or the philosophy behind them,” Behnoud says.

A striking feature of Behnoud’s work is the beautiful way in which the blues, reds and oranges flow into each other to create a bright background for his layered compositions. The colours are influenced by his work as a fashion designer. In fact, while he has never exhibited his art in public before, his label NimaNY is quite well known around the world. The clothing brand, established in 2004, has been featured in prestigious magazines such as Vogue and Maxim, and his clients include celebrities such as Kevin Spacey, Heidi Klum and Paris Hilton. “The colours look so vibrant because although these artworks are done on handmade paper, instead of ink, I used the same fabric paints here that I use on my garments,” the artist says.

In some of the artworks, Behnoud has merely played with a single calligraphic letter to create fun, pop-art-like compositions. In others ancient motifs such as winged lions, angels, royal seals and fantasy characters from the epic “Shahnameh” are superimposed on a collage of words comprising Rumi’s poetry, excerpts from literary texts and even calligraphers’ practice sheets. “Rumi’s poetry in the background depicts the richness, depth and enduring beauty of my country’s cultural heritage, whereas the symbols on top represent superficial elements that keep changing over the years. For example, in one artwork I have used a Qajar dynasty royal stamp with a very French design to comment on the foreign influence on the cultural fabric of my country during that period. And in another piece, I used the royal seals of kings from various periods in Iranian history to depict the contrast between Iran’s deep cultural heritage and the shallow, egoistic and elitist attitude of those who ruled the country,” Behnoud says. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Safar/Voyage: Contemporary Works by Arab, Iranian and Turkish Artists

April 20, 2013 – September 15, 2013 | Public Opening April 20 7:00-9:00 pm Audain & O'Brian Galleries

Safar/Voyage will be the first major exhibition of contemporary art from these regions to be shown in Vancouver.  It is constructed as a journey in the company of 16 artists, each of whom is neither fixed inside the territories of the Middle East nor permanently diasporic. These artists define themselves and the world according to their own creative representations, often informed by culturally specific conditions.

Wrapping the globe, their diverse artworks speak to the universal theme of voyage (a translation of the Persian safar), from the external and geographical to the internal, emotional, and existential. They acknowledge the realities of political turmoil and revolution, and how politics frames both trauma and desire, whether individual or collective. Voyage is seen to take many forms.

Expressed in media ranging from painting, sculpture, and video installation to performance and a carpet, it is as innocuous as tourism (with a twist), as disturbing as war—the violent crossing of borders—and as philosophical as the transience of life. The artists of Safar/Voyage are positioned as our guides, their visions mined for reflections on some of the most urgent issues of our time.

The artists featured are Adel Abidin, Tarek Al-Ghoussein, Nazgol Ansarinia, Kutlug AtamanAyman Baalbaki, Ali Banisadr, Taysir Batniji, Mona Hatoum, Susan Hefuna, Raafat Ishak, Y.Z. Kami, Farhad Moshiri, Youssef Nabil, Hamed Sahihi, Mitra Tabrizian, and Parviz Tanavoli.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Fereshteh Daftari, former curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. MOA Coordinating Curator Dr. Jill Baird, Curator, Education & Public Programs.  The exhibit will be accompanied by a publication.The exhibition will feature a wide range of public programs including curator and artist talks, musical performances, as well as the Hassan and Nezhat Khosrowshahi Distinguished Lecture Series featuring talks by noted architects and scholars Nader Ardalan, Daniel Roehr, Hossein Amanat, and Abbas Amanat.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Echoes of the Voiceless

Courtesy of George Caleb Bingham Gallery.

by Vivian Qian, The Maneater

Zeinab Chaichi Raghimi, an Iranian artist and fine arts graduate student, displayed her personal art exhibition called “Echoes of the Voiceless” on April 10 in the George Caleb Bingham Gallery.

This exhibition is a part of Raghimi’s Master of Fine Arts graduation thesis. Having held many art exhibits in different places around the country, Raghimi said this exhibit was technically different from the previous ones.

“This exhibition is a big change for me,” she said. “Previously, I just did some paintings. This time, I do papermaking.”

The installation, “Bewail,” consists of 12 Iranian women’s figures without heads, hands or feet. They are suspended from the ceiling, floating in the room like headless corpses. On the wall, there are broken females’ figures made up of paper pieces cut from the 12 females’ bodies.

“I think showing these figures is a more specific way to do a presentation,” Raghimi said. “These bodies give people a feeling of mourning. It means Iranian women’s voiceless pain. And the pieces (stuck) on the wall are a symbol of 'We Stand Together' and advocate women to stand up and support each other.”

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Being at home in exile

Shirin Neshat has overcome her obstacles and become an iconic figure very much like Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keeffe.

Shirin Neshat's art began with her photographic engagements with the journalistic images depicted in North America and Western Europe of Muslim women and their veiling habits - in conformity or in defiance. Shirin Neshat's work defies received or institutionalised aesthetics. 
A general view of the 'Women Without Men' exhibition held at Palazzo Reale on January 28, 2011 in Milan, Italy. Courtesy Getty Images & Al Jazeera.

Beginning from April 7 until July 7, 2013, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) in Detroit, Michigan, is home to a major mid-career retrospective of the work of Shirin Neshat - a globally celebrated Iranian artist living in New York.

Working from the depth of her experiences as an Iranian artist living in exile over the last three decades, almost the entirety of the life of the Islamic republic ruling her homeland, Shirin Neshat has by now established a critical constellation of factors definitive to her work: women with or without veiling, men in plain white clothes, Persian poetry and prose exuding from their faces and bodies, all coming together to play on a porous border line between femininity, gendered binaries, subdued eroticism, all staged at the threshold of a pending violence.

Over the years, many far less talented claims to artistry, most famously the notorious Islamophobe Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her collaborator the late Theo van Gogh, have tried to imitate her work, but they have all categorically failed and she is now staged and celebrated at the prime height of her career as a vastly imaginative, deeply engaging and invariably provocative artist whose work has reached a global audience far beyond the limits of her nationality or even the politics of her location in the United States. From Detroit, Michigan, Shirin Neshat is on her way to Beijing in China for a major retrospective on her work. From Asia to North Africa to Latin America, Europe, the US, and the Arab and Muslim world she is widely exhibited, debated and discussed.

Shirin Neshat's work has been at times criticised for updating "the Western Orientalist imageries" - and perhaps justifiably so: though the charge conceals a far deeper conundrum of an expatriate artist deeply rooted in her ancestral culture and yet critically engaged in the visual registers of her own time. Shirin Neshat's art began with her photographic engagements with the journalistic images depicted in North America and Western Europe of Muslim women and their veiling habits - in conformity or in defiance.  But while both those clichés and the kinds of equally cliché accusations of orientalism that they solicited kept pace with each other, Shirin Neshat's work persistently paved the way to chart uncharted and by definition dangerous interlays between piety and eroticism in multiple visual registers.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Iranian Contemporary Art & Its Market Opportunities

Newsha Tavakolian, My Superhero, from the series Listen, 2010, C-print, 105x130 cm. Courtesy ATFM.

by  Arash Amir Azodi, Art Taipei Forum Media

Whenever the theme is contemporary Iranian art, I have to talk about “Listen”, a piece by contemporary Iranian artist Newsha Tavakolian. The woman in the photograph appears to be very desperate, but at the same time, embodies the choice to face challenges head on.

Looking at Iranian history, we see revolutions every ten to twenty years. Politics in Iran has always been unstable and the development of contemporary art has been diverse. The most important change happened 30 years ago, at a time when Iran was experiencing a revolution and transition of power. The population grew exponentially from 30 million to almost 70 million. Based on this point, we know Iran is a young country and many young Iranians hope to find their identity and ponder their environment.

The Evolution of Contemporary Iranian Art

To understand the development of contemporary Iranian art and how the seeds of contemporary art were spread, we have to first understand how contemporary art took root in Iran. With French art academies serving as examples, Iran established its first art academy in 1941. Not long after, a queen appeared on the scene in the 1960s – Farah Pahlavi. She studied architecture and was friends with many avant-garde artists such as Andy Warhol. In a third world country like Iran, a queen who loved architecture and art had great influence on the country. The role of patron to arts emerged around this period of time. Pahlavi put great emphasis on public art, for example, placing sculptures in many places, etc. In the mid-1970s, Tehran established its first contemporary art museum. According to many collectors and art critiques, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is considered to have the most valuable collection of Western modern art outside of Europe and the United States. Due to factors such as these, Iran gradually grew accustomed to modern art in the 60s and 70s. Through different venues, education and patrons, Iran’s contemporary art and modern art began to flourish.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Give Hostages to Fortune

Lying in bed, I replayed the scene from earlier that day and wished that I’d answered Sheila’s blows with punches of my own, wished that I’d defended Mrs. Azam.

by Mehdi Tavana Okasi, Guernica
Image from Wikimedia via Antoin Sevruguin. Courtesy Guernica.

In the late fall of 1979, a fortune-teller moved into our house, seeking shelter from an abusive daughter, distraught over the whereabouts of her only son. Her name was Mrs. Azam and she came from a small town along the Caspian shore. That year, at her daughter’s behest, Mrs. Azam had locked up her house in Sari and left Iran for Boston to care for her colicky grandson—her very first. Two months later, sixty-six Americans were taken hostage in Tehran. Once the students overran the embassy, Mrs. Azam could not return, as she had planned, at the end of November. Her son, a student at the University of Tehran, went missing and despite calls to friends in the capital, no one could reach him. Her husband was long deceased and Mrs. Azam had no other blood relatives. That Mrs. Azam could no longer abide in America, my mother said, opened a gulf between mother and daughter. Unreasonably, Sheila claimed that Mrs. Azam had always loved her brother more. She was indignant that Mrs. Azam could so readily leave her only grandson. Their arguments quickly escalated; Sheila turned violent. It was then that Mrs. Azam called my mother in tears; there were the greatest lakes, she said, of blue and purple on her back, and arms, and legs.

I first saw Mrs. Azam at one of my parents’ weekend parties when our apartment was filled with Iranians, the men in suit jackets, the women in dresses, heavily perfumed and coiffed, the children in khakis and Polos, their hair brushed into obedience. She was the first Iranian I remember meeting who was old, the same age as my maternal grandmother, the one I was forced to speak to on the phone every Persian New Year with my mother beside me, dictating my utterances of love and longing for family I did not know or miss. People Mrs. Azam’s age rarely visited from Iran back then. Their children weren’t yet established to finance their parents’ travel. Unlike so many of their friends, my parents had moved to Boston in the late sixties, and were settled long before tides of Iranians arrived in the initial years of the Revolution, disoriented to an uncertain future. Like my parents, Sheila had moved to the United States a decade earlier; she’d married an American musician and had a blond-haired blue-eyed child, which was a great mystery. As a U.S. citizen, Sheila was able to secure the proper visa and pay for Mrs. Azam’s travel, however reluctant Mrs. Azam had been to leave Iran in the first place.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Tectonic presents a new movement in art

Back to Back and Guarded, by Holton Rower. Courtesy The Moving Museum and The National.

by , The National

Cynics may take some convincing, but Aya Mousawi and Simon Sakhai are confident that with their exhibition Tectonic, which opened amid the pomp and circumstance of the quarterly Art Night last month, they are bringing something totally new to Dubai.

Tectonic was the inaugural event for The Moving Museum, a platform for international artists to gather in a group show of solo exhibitions. The main difference from a regular exhibition is that rather than having a curator, artists were selected by a board of advisers – museum curators, artists and prominent, international cultural figureheads – for a “combined perspective”. Presented in a “museum infrastructure”, the idea is that this show somehow encapsulates the global art conversation at an institutional level.

It is an ambitious project and the question as to whether or not they are capturing the international spirit or simply presenting an interesting collection of art cannot really be answered, but it is certainly a memorable show. At the main entrance is the Iranian artist Soheila Sokhanvari’s stuffed horse, whose legs are wrapped around a concrete, turquoise balloon that symbolises the Iranian revolution. Further inside, Holton Rower, the grandson of the American sculptor Alexander Calder, has created magnificent, almost hallucinogenic poured-paint pieces and paired them with an installation of a paper chain made from real US dollar notes. A back wall is adorned by the Turner Prize-winner Jeremy Deller’s Folksong and a variety of video performance-pieces pepper the space. Of the 24 artists, only Slavs and Tatars, an art collective from Eastern Europe, the Iraqi-American Michael Rakowitz and the Iranian artist Ali Banisadr have exhibited in the region before. The 300 pieces, therefore, do offer a window into something new.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Thus in Silence in Dreams' Projections

Farideh Lashai, Gone Down the Rabbit Hole, 2010-2012. Painting with projected animation and sound. Oil, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 4 minutes, 30 seconds, 92.5 x 78.75 in (235 x 200 cm). Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery, New York.

Exhibition at Leila Heller Gallery celebrates the career of recently deceased Iranian artist Farideh Lashai
Exhibition at Leila Heller Gallery celebrates the career of recently deceased Iranian artist Farideh Lashai
Farideh Lashai, Gone Down the Rabbit Hole, 2010-2012. Painting with projected animation and sound. Oil, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 4 minutes, 30 seconds, 92.5 x 78.75 in (235 x 200 cm). Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery and Artdaily.
Farideh Lashai, Gone Down the Rabbit Hole, 2010-2012. Painting with projected animation and sound. Oil, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 4 minutes, 30 seconds, 92.5 x 78.75 in (235 x 200 cm). Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery, New York.

More Information: http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=61815#.UWRi0lfhd8E[/url]
Copyright © artdaily.org
Farideh Lashai, Gone Down the Rabbit Hole, 2010-2012. Painting with projected animation and sound. Oil, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 4 minutes, 30 seconds, 92.5 x 78.75 in (235 x 200 cm). Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery, New York.

More Information: http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=61815#.UWRi0lfhd8E[/url]
Copyright © artdaily.org

by Artdaily 

Farideh Lashai, Gone Down the Rabbit Hole, 2010-2012. Painting with projected animation and sound. Oil, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 4 minutes, 30 seconds, 92.5 x 78.75 in (235 x 200 cm). Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery, New York.

More Information: http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=61815#.UWRi0lfhd8E[/url]
Copyright © artdaily.org

Leila Heller Gallery and Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art are presenting two posthumous New York exhibitions celebrating the life and career of internationally renowned, recently deceased, Iranian artist Farideh Lashai (1944 – 2013). On view, from April 3 to May 7, at ETNFA are works such as El Amal, 2011-2012, Le Dejeuner au Park-e-Mellat, 2007-2011, among others. An extended version of Lashai’s work Rabbit in Wonderland, 2010, is on view at Leila Heller Gallery from April 4 to May 2. A joint-gallery catalogue, featuring an essay by Negar Azimi, Senior Editor of Bidoun magazine, has been published to accompany the exhibitions.

Through her dynamic paintings and videos, Farideh Lashai, who began exhibiting her work internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions in 1968, created a compelling Iranian aesthetic in contemporary Middle Eastern art, inspiring artists at home and abroad. During her career, Lashai captivated viewers with her works, which seem to inhabit an ephemeral reality akin to the actual shifts of events through time and space. Lashai’s amalgamated use of layered mediums such as video, paintings, and sound, brings to life transient movements of iconic figures and other characters projected upon striking paintings of nature. Her intricate use of projected videos and sound upon unique paintings function as a cohesive whole and awaken a universal sense of nostalgia.

Monday, 8 April 2013


An exhibition at the Chisenhale Gallery


Nasrin Tabatabai and Babak Afrassiabi, Seep, 2013. Installation with video. Co-commissioned by MACBA and Chisenhale Gallery and presented in partnership with Delfina Foundation. Courtesy of the artists and RA Magazine.

In 2011, the artists Nasrin Tabatabai and Babak Afrassiabi began a series of works that juxtapose two 20th century archives in the UK and Iran. One produced by British Petroleum (BP, then known as the Anglo Iranian Oil Company) documents the company's operations in Iran beginning in 1908 and ending with the nationalisation of the oil industry in 1951. The other is the collection of modern Western art acquired by the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art during the late 1970s and withdrawn from public display for twenty years following the Islamic revolution in 1979. The artists' approach to these archives considers their suspension, through discontinuation (in the case of the oil company) or removal (in the case of the museum).

One of the videos in the installation incorporates documents from the British Petroleum archive relating to a film that was produced by the Anglo Iranian Oil Company in 1948 to present the oil industry's modernising effect on Iran. Titled Persian Story, the film was produced in Technicolour and was an idealised account of Anglo Iranian's activities, in line with the narrative recounted in the company's archive, but its production coincided with political disputes around oil and the closure of the refinery, and these factors inevitably encroached on the film's plot. Tabatabai and Afrassiabi's video dramatises a letter from the archive in which the director, who was commissioned to make the film, complains about the 'unfilmability' of his subject matter.