Friday, 30 December 2016

Creative License: Paterson’s Golshifteh Farahani Talks Jarmusch and Breaking Through Iranian Self-Censorship

Courtesy of Amazon Studios, Bleecker Street and MovieMaker.
by Ryan VaziriMovieMaker

We all long for lives filled with extraordinary moments, signs that our individual experiences are different from everyone else’s. Yet reality is characterized by repetition and boredom and frustration, routine and shapeless.

Jim Jarmusch’s cinema has always reflected on what can be called, loosely and grandly, the meaning of life. His latest film, Paterson, tells the story of a bus driver (Adam Driver) who writes poetry on the side and dearly loves his wife (Golshifteh Farahani). They live in Paterson, New Jersey, made famous as the subject and hometown (respectively) for American poetry greats William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg; otherwise it’s a relatively humdrum slice of small-town America. The characters’ lives are packed with routine: The bus-driving poet (also named Paterson) goes to work, gets in a couple of verses, drops by the local bar, while his artistic wife Laura stays in home and occupies herself with baking and learning guitar. On the whole, though, they’re happy.

Jarmusch’s whimsical, solemn film would’ve been impossible to pull off without the help of great performances by Driver and Farahani. Farahani, an Iranian actress now based in France, brings to life an effervescent, energetic woman, whose self-absorption and flightiness is balanced with a great deal of charm. Farahani’s successful career in Iran, including frequent work with auteur Asghar Farhadi (she starred in his acclaimed About Elly in 2009), was put on hold when officials banned her from the country following a nude photoshoot in French magazine Madame Figaro. She has since worked with a range of international moviemakers, from Mia Hansen-Løve to Ridley Scott to Jon Stewart. With her courage, versatility and immense talent, her future certainly seems to be very bright.

A Tale Of Two Shows

A review of two shows in London reveals the intimacy of works on paper as well as the artist’s self-portrait
Bahman Mohasses. Untitled (Three Figures). 1957. Lithograph. Funded by Maryam and Edward Eisler. Image courtesy of British Museum, the Estate of Bahman Mohassess and Harper's BAZAAR Arabia.
by Roxane Zand, Harper's BAZAAR Arabia

There are those who say that all works of art are in some way a portrait of the artist. While as a topic this would invite much debate, it is fair to say that all artists address the self and its preoccupations in the process of creativity and expression. Two recent shows – in very different and seemingly unconnected ways – draw our attention to the self-scrutiny of portraits and the artistic process. They are two shows that inspire and excite in equal measure, in disparate ways but for quite similar reasons.

The first of these is a gem of a small show at the British Museum – Iranian Voices: Recent Acquisitions of Works on Paper, curated by Dr Venetia Porter. Thanks to the museum's Contemporary and Modern Middle East Art Patron group, and other generous donors such as Maryam and Edward Eisler, the Museum now has a growing collection of over 200 established and emerging artists from across the region. This particular group of works on view just behind the Addis Gallery brings together thoughtfully juxtaposed pieces by such well-known names as Bahman Mohassess, Parviz Tanavoli, Parastou Fourouhar, Ali Akbar Sadeghi, Shahpour Pouyan, Tarlan Rafiee and Yashar Samimi Mofakham, Fereydoun Ave, Bahman Jalali, and Ali Banisadr. With the thoughtfulness and historicity characteristic of British Museum exhibitions, this show unfolds a series of unexpected connections and a contextualisation that makes it an eye-opening experience. For one thing, it is fascinating to see works on paper by artists some of whom are better known as painters. The viewer gets to witness the artist's process, smaller experimentations, sketches of more complex compositions, as well as stylistic departures.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

An Iranian Artist Living in L.A. Reflects on the Effects of War in Unlikely Ways

Courtesy Gelare Khoshgozaran, Human Resources and LA Weekly.
by Eva Recinos, LA Weekly

Even as a toddler, Gelare Khoshgozaran could tell something was wrong. She fumed as she hid under the stairs with her parents, wondering why they laughed and told jokes while jets flew overhead.

“I would look at my brother’s face and he was terrified,” says Khoshgozaran. “And I knew that although this was kind of fun — hiding under the staircase with your parents in the dark — this was really serious. … I remember the feeling of rage toward my parents that they were not capable of understanding the amount of danger and the scale and severity of how vulnerable we were.”

They did understand, of course. And Khoshgozaran would later come to realize that this was the only way they knew to comfort her during some of the most traumatizing moments of their lives. Little did Khoshgozaran know that the Iran-Iraq war would affect multiple parts of her life, even after she moved to the United States in 2009.

“Rocket Rain,” the artist’s solo show at Human Resources in Chinatown, explores both her personal story and the collective history and symbols of communities affected by the war. Envisioning the show was only half the battle: Khoshgozaran asked for the help of friends and family to gather materials and share their own stories of how their lives were affected by the war. Khoshgozaran’s mother was pregnant with her during the war, something that always stuck with the artist.

Conversations about the past, present and future

The series ‘Visual Dialogues’ continues with a showcase of works by two artists who explore their mutual interest in material, abstraction and the found object
Gallery view of the works of Fereydoun Ave and Shaqayeq Arabi. Courtesy Gulf News.

by Jyoti Kalsi, Gulf News

Total Art at the Courtyard continues its series “Visual Dialogues” with an exhibition of recent works by well-known Iranian artists Fereydoun Ave and Shaqayeq Arabi. The show sets up a conversation between Arabi’s three-dimensional works and Ave’s two-dimensional pieces, exploring their mutual interest in material, abstraction and the found object. Both artists work with objects available to them in their surroundings, turning them into a poetic stream of consciousness, telling stories about the past, the present and the future.

Arabi is a compulsive collector of found materials, which she uses to create her work. In her latest series, she has used pieces from a broken classic chair, fly nets, palm fronds, bells, a cycle pump, a pair of crutches and spatulas from a pizzeria — all found on the streets of Dubai — to create aesthetic and thought-provoking assemblages that express her feelings, emotions and memories, and speak about the fine balance between our built environment and nature. “I work spontaneously, but the one conscious decision I make is to always include some organic materials in my compositions,” she says.

Ave has been an influential personality in the Iranian theatre, film and arts scene. Besides being an internationally recognised artist and curator, he is also a collector of art and antiques, and a mentor to the next generation of Iranian artists. He has lived and worked in Europe, America and Iran, and was a close friend of legendary American artist Cy Twombly. His new cycle of works “Shah Abbas and his Page Boy” comprises a series of textile-based mixed-media pieces that combine his roles as artist, collector and mentor, and reflect his deep understanding of both Western and Eastern art.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Tehran’s Ab-Anbar Gallery Links the Diaspora and Global Art

Drawings by the Scottish artist David Batchelor, who will have a solo exhibition at the Ab-Anbar gallery in January. Courtesy David Batchelor and NY Times.
by Ginanne Brownell, New York Times

Reza Aramesh had received offers before. Over the years the London-based artist, who was born in Iran, was approached by various Tehran galleries asking if he would like to have his works exhibited. But for a variety of reasons it never felt suitable.

“I always wanted to show in Iran, but it was never really the right situation or gallery at the time,” said Mr. Aramesh, 42, whose works scrutinize oppression and violence in a global context through mediums including photography, installations and sculpture. “I did not show in Iran just for the sake of it because even in London I never did that. With any gallery, it has to make sense.”

But a few years ago when the newly founded Ab-Anbar gallery in Tehran approached the artist, who has been featured in shows in countries including South Africa, Israel, China and Argentina, he was intrigued. “For one, it was a gut feeling,” said Mr. Aramesh, who has a solo show at the Dubai outpost of the Leila Heller Gallery (until Jan. 4) and is featured in a group show “Uncertain States: Artistic Strategies in States of Emergency” (until Jan. 15) at Berlin’s Akademie Der Künste.

“Another was that I met Salman Matinfar a number of years ago and was impressed with him and his knowledge of my work. But also what interests me is that as a gallerist I like his ambition.”

Mr. Matinfar, the founder and director of Ab-Anbar (“water reserve” in Farsi), plans for his gallery to be international in scope, not only in its focus to bring Iranian diaspora artists’ work back to Tehran (Mr. Aramesh’s second show with the gallery, “At 11:57 am Wednesday 23 October 2013,” closed in early October) but also to have international contemporary artists exhibited in the gallery, in the downtown district of the capital.