|The figure of Mohammad Mossadegh, the prime minister of Iran who was overthrown by the CIA and MI6 in 1953, continues to haunt Iran, as in this painting by Farideh Lashai. Photograph: Nazanin Paykar-Ara. Courtesy The Irish Times|
by Lara Marlowe, The Irish Times
Affluent Iranians flock to the vernissages every Friday afternoon. Most galleries show safe, decorative abstract art, still lifes or calligraphy. But close to one third of an estimated 150 galleries show socially and politically charged art, says Aria Kasaei, who designs a monthly guide.
But the hardliners haven’t given up. Leila Hatami, the star of A Separation and the Iranian actress best known outside Iran, was on the jury of this year’s Cannes festival. When the ageing head of the festival, Gilles Jacob, kissed Hatami on the cheek, it caused outrage in Tehran, and she was forced to apologise.
Rozita Sharaf Jahan founded the Azad gallery 15 years ago as a showcase for young talent. She holds court in her back office; the Gertrude Stein of present-day Tehran. Sharaf Jahan has never clashed with the authorities, though her themes can hardly please them.