Saturday, 28 September 2013

Theatrical revival stirs in Iran with “Funny Nightmares”

 by le mag, Euronews

A black, mordant, sarcastic sense of humour is part of the Iranian psyche, and as war once again stalks the length and breadth of the Muslim world, one of Iran’s most famous playwrights Mohammad Charmshir and director Reza Haddad have been pulling in the crowds in Tehran with “Funny nightmares by day and some by night”, their fourth success in a row.

It is a resolutely futuristic theatre – performance art hybrid which has blossomed throughout August and September 2013 in a theatre hall in the heart of the Iranian capital.

Seven actresses have been cast to depict the nightmare of war and all its catastrophes, with extravagant costumes, dance, and music that at turns beguiles and throbs like artillery fire.

“We are living in a world which has lots of anxiety about war. We are all worried about having another war in our country and it is horrible for us. We live in a world in which dictators have encouraged resentment, it is a nightmare that doesn’t leave us. In this performance I tried to show these fears and nightmares. I try also to talk about them to the audience. In this world, not just in my homeland but, I think, around the world the big fear and anxiety is war. War and ruin. War in which children are the first victims. These are my concerns in this performance,” says Haddad.

Over the past three decades most Iranians have endured the pressures of revolution, war, politics and isolation. Even a small new coda in such a relentless symphony can influence Iranians’ daily lives, so this is probably the main reason why many Iranian artists choose political and social content for their works of art. “ Funny Nightmares” is one such example.

My Wicked Persian Carpet

Taymour Grahne Gallery to Present Reza Derakshani's ‘My Wicked Persian Carpet’, 10/29-12/3   

by Visual Arts News Desk, Broadway World

Following its much-touted launch in September 2013, Taymour Grahne Gallery presents new works by Iranian painter, musician and performance artist Reza Derakshani. Expanding on previous investigations of ornamentation and abstraction, "My Wicked Persian Carpet" incorporates the artist's newfound experimentation with materials such as glitter to consider ongoing themes of life and death, faith and fear, love and revulsion, beauty and viciousness, light and darkness. Flat colorfields and a lack of perspective, always a signature component of Derakshani's compositions, meld tradition and political references into highly textured, jewel-like paintings. The series derives its raw strength from an uncomfortable contrast-deceptively beautiful, almost hedonistic decorative qualities cut with bleak, apocalyptic manifestations of death-a result that is hypnotically and universally unsettling.

Born in the rustic countryside of Sangsar, Iran, Derakshani's detailed observation of the natural world is apparent in his work, as is his inspiration from Persian art and folkloric traditions; the imagery of gardens, epics, and miniatures is a critical part of his visual narrative. After leaving Iran in the aftermath of the revolution, Derakshani incorporated influences of Western modernist painting and Persian motifs to develop a visual language of his own, which richly and often piercingly addresses the challenges of calling multiple places home, and the complexity and trauma of modern Iranian cultural history.

This latest series was motivated by Derakshani's return to his native country, where, disappointed by what he saw after decades living overseas, a commentary on the state of Iran today has manifested itself in "My Wicked Persian Carpet." However, as Scott Indrisek writes in his essay accompanying the exhibition catalog: "Defining Derakshani as a political painter would be reductive-shrinking his oeuvre into little more than an extended, anguished salvo against a regime-and it's more interesting to note the unavoidable ways that such concrete realities are instead ingested, and transformed, by the artist."

Monday, 16 September 2013

Iranians turn to art as a weapon for survival

A photo of the Rain series, by Abbas Kiarostami. Courtesy of the artist.

by Salman Siddiqui, Gulf times

Despite strict censorship and a regime considered oppressive by the Western world, internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami believes that art and culture is flourishing in his part of the world.

The filmmaker is in town as part of an invitation extended by the Doha Film Institute, which is presenting a  programme of Kiarostami’s early works, documentaries and award-winning feature films including Taste of Cherry (1997) and The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) at the Museum of Islamic Art from  September 13 to 21.

In an interview with Gulf Times yesterday, Kiarostami said that “people [in Iran] are all turning to art as a shelter; as a weapon for survival. This is the only choice that they have in order to be able to undergo and overcome the social and political pressures.”

He said that if one looked at the history of Iran, one would observe that whenever there had been political repression, art production gained strength and quality. “This is what you can see in Iran today also. These days everybody takes calligraphic and painting classes.”

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Written On The Body/ Politics Of Poetry: Iranian Artists & The Power Of Script

Pt 2, Mixed Bag Mag

Curator Sanaz Mazinani’s show The Third Space is wrapping up this weekend at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. Mixed Bag Mag caught up with this busy and multi-talented woman whose career as an artist, educator and curator has her bifurcating herself between Toronto and San Francisco. In the second part (read Part 1 here) of Mixed Bag Mag’s look into the work of contemporary Iranian art Sanaz offers historical background to the contemporary foreground of some of the work included The Third Space and the symbolic and visual power of script.

Avestaaee Script

The History of Calligraphy in Persia

Persian Calligraphy has had a significant effect on the enhancement of Persian arts and culture. The various Iranian Calligraphic styles, such as Taliq, Nastaliq, Naskh, Thulth, Reqa, Towqi, Shekasteh, and Kufic each carry with them an emblem of an era of history. These decorative scripts allow the reader to visually enjoy the composition of the word, in a wholly new way, providing the viewer with multiple levels of engagement with the work of art.

Artist Gita Hashemi‘s Book of Illuminations.

Contemporary use of calligraphy by Iranian artists

Sunday, 1 September 2013

SubRosa: The Language of Resistance

SubRosa: The Language of Resistance runs until December 7, 2013  at the USF Contemporary Art Museum.

Artists include Ai Weiwei (China), Ramón Esono Ebalé (Equatorial Guinea), Barbad Golshiri (Iran), Khaled Jarrar (Palestine), Zanele Muholi (South Africa), and José Toirac and Meira Marrero (Cuba). Curated by Noel Smith; Organized by USFCAM; Made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and supported by the USF Institute on Black Life and EG Justice.

The exhibition, curated by Noel Smith, examines the art and language of artists in response to social, political, and environmental repression. Although the political agency of art is regularly debated, there is a growing group of artists today who make work with political agency and relevancy in mind. Covering continents and cultures, these artists share a desire to question dominant political systems and the prevalent status quo, sometimes covertly and dangerously. More broadly, SubRosa, titled for the Latin phrase meaning secrecy, poses several questions about the role of art in political life.

You’re probably familiar with at least one of the artists who have work in the exhibition. But we wanted to share a bit about an artist you may not be immediately familiar with, Iranian artist Barbad Golshiri. Golshiri will soon have a solo exhibition entitled Curriculum Mortis at Thomas Erben Gallery in New York.

As Dad as Possible, as Dad as Beckett, Barbad Golshiri, 2000 – 2013, Iron, ashes, 200.3 x 100.2 x 28.3 cm. Courtesy USF CAM. 

Barbad Golshiri

Barbad Golshiri is a contemporary artist who was born in 1982 in Tehran, Iran. He continues to work and live in Tehran, even as his work is considered controversial in the place he calls home.