Tehran’s Giant Open Air Art Gallery

The advent of large-scale advertising has forever changed metropolitan landscapes. Walk down any street in any city and one is sure to be bombarded with massive images of cars, perfume, fast food restaurants, upcoming films… and just about any commodity imaginable. Despite the fact that most people don’t pay explicit attention to the billboards littered around their city, advertising has a way of getting into one’s subconscious – consumerism makes us clamor for ‘things’ rather than critical thought. But, what would happen if a metropolitan city were to replace their advertisements for art?

The city of Tehran is doing just that. From May 6 through May 16th, the billboards of Tehran will showcase over 1,500 international works of art, rather than the usual advertisements of gadgets and appliances. For 10 days, the mayor of Tehran, Dr. Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, together with the Organization of Beautification of Tehran [responsible for decorating walls, parks and other public spaces, including billboards] have turned the very city of Tehran into an art gallery. Massive billboards plastered with Persian miniature paintings, images of Iranian carpets, scenes inspired by the Shahnameh [Ferdowsi’s epic poem, The Book of Kings], works by Sohrab Sepehri, Bahman Mohassess, Mahmoud Farshchian, but also Munch’s The Scream and Magritte’s The Son of Man. Works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mark Rothko, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Picasso, and hundreds of other artists.

The response has been hugely positive: The Guardian reports on comments from the Iranian public in Tehran —

Sadra Mohaqeq, an Iranian journalist with the reformist Shargh daily in Tehran, was delighted.

“It’s pretty exciting. It’s wonderful to see billboard ads of laundry machines or big corporate banks being replaced by a Rembrandt or a Cézanne or a Picasso, what better than that? […] For 10 days, people have time off from the usual billboard ads just promoting consumerism. It is going to affect people’s visual taste in a positive manner.”

Mohammad Babaee, another Tehrani citizen, said he was delighted to see works he had never seen before. “I had never heard of Barge Haulers on the Volga but now I get to see a big picture of it every day in Hemmat highway.”

Elaheh Khosravi said she had to rub her eyes twice in disbelief. “When I woke up this morning, something strange had happened,” she wrote on the Iranian news website Khabaronline. “I thought I was dreaming, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Tehran had turned into a museum.”

Shargh said the art had transformed Tehran into a giant canvas. “This is a very commendable move. It’s a festival of colour and movement,” it wrote.

Whatever the purpose, it’s quite an amazing feat – one that brings inspiration and conversation to the public and makes for an altogether heightened aesthetic city experience.

Click here to view images of the billboards across Tehran via Hamshahri Photo Agency

[Image via The Guardian]


Portals by art collective Shared Studios

We may not be as close to cracking the science of teleportation, but the technology of the 21st century has allowed us to get pretty close. With the invention of texting, video chat, face time, and social media as a whole, more than ever, we’re able to cross the boundaries of the world. Without the need for physical travel, people from all over the world have been able to connect with each other. This process of globalization has opened many new doors in the world of business, economy, politics, as well as the arts.

A recent art project led by the contemporary art company Shared Studios launched their project Portals in December 2014. Portals is an international installation piece, comprising of two gold painted shipping containers placed on opposite sides of the world ¬¬– one in Tehran and the other in New York City. Inside each shipping container is a camera and a large screen which streams live to the other container. Viewers are invited to come into the container and for 15 minutes speak to a stranger on the other side of the world. One of the most fascinating aspects of this project is what participants choose to talk about. The relationship between America and Iran has not always been the greatest politically or socially, however the words exchanged between participants have not been ones of hatred or criticism. Instead they have been ones of curiosity and admiration. Most participants have chosen to exchange questions about each other’s lives. Common topics include childhood, hobbies, desires, future goals, or shared interests. Despite the vast cultural differences between these two peoples, many participants from both countries have come to realize how many similarities we share as human beings. Artworks like this that comment on human connection and the global sphere are essential to the attempt to bring understanding and acceptance between varying cultures on a social and political level.

Over 650 people have participated in this project so far, each leaving with a difference experience. While some walked out of the container laughing and filled with joy, others came out weeping and overwhelmed. The range of emotions to come out of a project like this one are always unpredictable. Coming face-to-face with a stranger from a part of the world we would never have had the chance to meet outside of this project is revolutionary and powerful in itself. While countries will always have their borders, due to the innovative technology of our time, there will no longer be borders between people. This art project is only the beginning for this type of global expansion, and while there is much work to be done, the art world is as good a place as any to start.

Click here to read an article on NPR transcribing one of these encounters


Ancient Meets Contemporary Event Success!

What a wonderful turnout we had at our latest opening exhibition Ancient Meets Contemporary featuring the works of Iranian painter and sculptor Chahab. As the guests poured in through out the night, so did their appraisals of the beautiful and captivating works that hung on the walls of Tara Gallery.

“I’m an artist because it is my spiritual need and livelihood. To thrive, I must remain in a perpetual movement of creation” – Chahab

This perpetual movement that drives the artist Chahab was evident across the walls of Tara Gallery on Saturday as visitors were astounded in the utter beauty this collection holds. The sandy yellow, fire truck red, rosie pink, and cobalt blue hues of Chababs pieces create a natural flow of movement through the room as viewers look from one painting to another. Contrasting the harsh white walls of the gallery, Chahab’s colors evoke a drastic distinction of calming pastels with vibrant pigments. His forms interpret familiar shapes, historic elements, and dream like images that leaves each viewer finding a piece of them self within it. As one guest was asked to pick her favorite, her response exclaimed ” I find something different I love about each one”. As wine was poured and laughs were had, Chahab’s art hung on the walls amongst the other guests as if they were waiting to be examined. The intricacies of each work ask for such attention to detail, that viewers found themselves exploring each piece for a multitude of moments; every second finding a new line or saturation of color that they did not notice before. It is safe to say that whatever force of movement drives this artist, it is taking him in his best direction. If creativity is his fuel, then his works are a direct result of the artist’s drive to create something filled with life and expression.

As a special treat for the visitors, Chahab him self was present at the opening giving a special Art Talk on his works, doing a signing of his self titled book Chahab as well as meeting some of his biggest fans! Here are a few photos from the opening. If you missed it, the works are on display at Tara Gallery until January 15th. Do no miss the opportunity to see these wonderfully intricate works in person!

Art by Emerging Iranian Artists to be shown in NYC

Curated by Roya Khajavi-Heidari and Masud Nader, Rogue Space Gallery in NYC presents PORTRAITS: REFLECTIONS BY EMERGING IRANIAN ARTISTS. [via Tehran Times]

Works by a group of emerging Iranian artists will be showcased in an exhibition at the Rogue Space Gallery in New York during September.

The works have been selected by Roya Khajavi-Heidari and Masud Nader for the exhibit entitled “Portraits: Reflections by Emerging Iranian Artists”.

Paintings, photos, sculptures, and mixed media and video works by over 20 artists, including Ahmad Morshedlu, Alishia Morasaii, Arash Sedaqatkish, Babak Bidarian, Bahar Behbahani, Dadbeh Basir, Hossein Edalatkhah, Jinus Taqizadeh, Morteza Purhosseini, Nasser Bakhshi, Samira Alikhanzadeh, and Sepanta Qasemkhani, will be put on display at the exhibition, which will be held from September 17 to 29.

The artists were born, raised and educated in the United States.

“The emphasis on emerging Iranian art does not aim to ghettoize the artists either geographically or philosophically,” Khajavi-Heidari and Nader said in a press release.

“Rather, by holding such a show in New York City—the epicenter of the global contemporary art market—we hope to highlight the talent of these seldom-recognized artists and to celebrate their courage, stamina and love of their craft,” they added.

Open Call: MOPCAP 2015

Magic of Persia announces an open call to Iranian artists around the world for their annual Contemporary Art Prize. Read below to learn about the Prize and eligibility requirements. Best of luck to all applicants!

The Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (MOP CAP) is a worldwide search for the next generation of contemporary Iranian visual artists who have the potential to make a significant impact in their field. The goal of the prize is to provide an opportunity for emerging artists to gain international exposure, and to engage in artistic experimentation and cultural exchange. Through its archival material, including an online artist database and printed publications, MOP CAP aims to provide an educational interchange and contribute to the development of Iranian art and culture.

MOP CAP is open to young, emerging Iranian visual artists, living in and outside of Iran, through an online application. The profiles of all eligible entrants to the open call are reviewed by the MOP CAP Selection Committee, and a shortlist of up to 21 artists is compiled.

The MOP CAP Shortlist Exhibition in Dubai showcases works of the selected artists, at which time the Judging Panel meet to deliberate on, and choose, up to seven Finalists. Subsequently, an exhibition of the Finalists’ work is held in London, where the Judging Panel meet once again to select the MOP CAP Winner.

Throughout the process, the Selection Committee are available to the artists for guidance, should they request it.

The MOP CAP Winner receives a one-year mentorship with a London-based curator, resulting in a solo-project at a leading gallery space in London; as well as a three-month residency at the Delfina Foundation.


Artists must apply through an online open call via the MOP CAP website. The next open call will be held 1-31 July 2014.

Eligible applicants are:

of Iranian origin, living in or outside of Iran;
35 years or younger at the time of application;
yet to have had a solo-exhibition outside of their country of residence;
not represented by any galleries outside of Iran.
Each applicant must submit the following with their application, with all text submitted in English:

An up to date CV that details the exhibitions that you have participated in;
A biography, of up to 1,000 words, including education and personal history;
A video of up to 3 minutes in which you further discuss your practice (this video can be in either Farsi or English);
High resolution images or videos of between 3 – 5 artworks, including a description of each work.

[Source: Magic of Persia]

New York Gallery features Iranian Art

Located in New York City, the Taymour Grahne Gallery seeks to “highlight artists from across the world, including the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, South America and their Diasporas.” Fixed Unknowns is currently on view from July 14 – September 6, 2014 and features the work of Kamrooz Aram, Shirana Shahbazi, and Hannah Whitaker. Read more about the show in the press release before, courtesy of the Taymour Grahne Gallery.

The red eye of a flower escapes from its stem, multiplies and migrates across the canvas. Three spheres of uncertain scale hover over a black field, as marbles poised to be dispersed, or planetary bodies frozen in orbit. A circle acts as the aperture through which we see–and as the subject pictured.

The works by Kamrooz Aram, Shirana Shahbazi, and Hannah Whitaker in Fixed Unknowns draw upon classical genres of image-making—the portrait, the landscape, the still life. Each artist introduces a syntax: a repeated grid of floral motifs lifted from a Persian carpet; an overlapping series of geometric planes; a pattern sourced from a Bauhaus textile, hand-cut on a screen. They trouble the seeming fixity of these repeating designs, and their attendant politics and histories, through near-erasures and imperfect cover-ups.

Whitaker sees the film plane as a formal system, and as a site to “foster confusion.” She places paper screens in the body of the camera, which obstruct the light and allow for various visual vocabularies to coexist. Shahbazi’s geometric compositions appear digitally rendered, but are in fact produced through multiple exposures of three-dimensional objects. With each installation, she regroups the works, playing with “how the photographs question each other, enrich each other.” Aram describes his paintings as “unstable,” as he in turn inscribes, coats over, scratches away, glosses, and smears his canvas: each “erasure always leaves its own mark.”

About the Curators

Ava Ansari is an artist and curator. She has previously worked at Basement Gallery, Dubai, and Silk Road Gallery, Tehran. As an artist, she has presented work at Dixon Place, La Mama, Eyebeam, the AC Institute, among others. Ava is the co-director of The Back Room, a curatorial and pedagogical project, facilitating exchanges between artists in Iran and the US. She is the manager of the Edge of Arabia US Tour.

Molly Kleiman is a deputy editor of Triple Canopy, a magazine that advances a model for publication that encompasses digital works of art and literature, public conversations, exhibitions, and books. She is co-director of The Back Room, a curatorial and pedagogical project facilitating exchanges between artists in the US and Iran. She teaches at NYU’s Gallatin School for Individual Study.

About the Artists

Kamrooz Aram received his MFA from Columbia University in 2003. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Palimpsest: Unstable Paintings for Anxious Interiors at Green Art Gallery (Dubai, UAE); Kamrooz Aram/Julie Weitzat The Suburban (Chicago, Illinois, 2013); Brute Ornament: Kamrooz Aram and Seher Shah, curated by Murtaza Vali, at Green Art Gallery (Dubai, UAE, 2012); Negotiations at Perry Rubenstein Gallery (New York, 2011); Generation After Generation, Revolution after Revelation at LAXART (Los Angeles, 2010); and Kamrooz Aram: Realms and Reveries at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (North Adams, Massachusetts, 2006). He has shown in numerous group exhibitions including Beauty Reigns: A Baroque Sensibility in Recent Painting at McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, 2014); roundabout, City Gallery (Wellington, New Zealand, 2010); the Busan Biennale (2006); P.S.1/MoMA’s Greater New York 2005; and the Prague Biennale I (2003). Aram is one of the winners of the Abraaj Group Art Prize 2014. His work can be found in public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH; and M+, Hong Kong. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Shirana Shahbazi studied photography at the Fachhochschule Dortmund, Germany, and Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Zurich, Switzerland. She has had solo exhibitions at The New Museum (New York); The Hammer Museum (Los Angeles); Fotomuseum Winterthur (Winterthur); Barbican Art Gallery (London); Galerie Bob van Orsouw (Zurich); Swiss Institute (New York); Centre Culturel Suisse (Paris); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Rotterdam); among others. Recent group exhibitions include New Photography 2012, The Museum of Modern Art (New York). Shahbazi lives and works in Zurich.

Hannah Whitaker is an artist and a contributing editor for Triple Canopy. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at M+B (Los Angeles), Galerie Christophe Gaillard (Paris), Thierry Goldberg (New York), Locust Projects (Miami), and Rencontres d’Arles in France, where she was nominated for the Discovery Prize. She co-edited Issue 45 of Blind Spot magazine and co-curated its accompanying show at Invisible Exports in New York. Her work is currently on view on billboards in Cincinnati as a part of a yearlong public art exhibition organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum. She is based in Brooklyn.

[Source: Taymour Grahne Gallery] [Image: Kamrooz Aram | Untitled (Palimpsest #20) | 2013 | Oil, oil pastel + wax pencil on canvas]

Mashhad to host International Symposium on Contemporary Sculpture

Interesting news via the Tehran Times – we’ll update with more information as it comes in.

The city of Mashhad will be playing host to an international symposium on contemporary sculpture in August.

Organized by Padide Shandiz Dream City, a tourist site near Mashhad, the symposium will be held in the city from August 16 to September 5, secretary of the symposium said in a press conference on Monday.

A number of Iranian and foreign sculptors have been invited to attend the symposium, he added, giving no specific names for the sculptors.

In addition, young talented artists are asked to participate in the event, he said.

The festival aims to promote visual arts, train young creative talents, redecorate the city, and also boost tourism in the region, he remarked.

He further noted that 35 works will be selected for the symposium, and the final selected works will be displayed across the city.

The best top three sculptures will be announced during the closing ceremony at the end of the symposium. The first place winner will receive a $12,000 cash prize, the second $10,000, and the third $7,000.

[Source: Tehran Times] [Image credit: Padide Art]

Third Tehran Auction | 2014

The third Tehran Auction will take place this Friday, May 30, at Tehran’s Hotel Parsian Azadi. The auction will feature works by the great established names of Iranian contemporary art, such as Parviz Tanavoli, Aydin Aghdashloo, Sohrab Sepehri, Mohammad Ehsai, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, and Farideh Lashai, as well as emerging artists.

The lots will be available for viewing today and tomorrow, and the auction begins on Friday at 6 PM local (Tehran) time. There is a beautifully rendered digital catalogue accessible through their site, here.

The Tehran Auction is a privately developed initiative organized by former head of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Dr. Alireza Samiazar. It began as “an endeavour to fulfill the increasing interest in modern and contemporary Iranian art and to facilitate the acquisition of the best quality works of various genres. It also aims to support the domestic art market as a key basis for the international market.”

Our very own director, Homa Taraji is currently in Tehran, in support of the auction so hopefully we will have exciting information and images for you, soon!

Last year’s auction sold out the entire collection, generating 2.1 million dollars (65,450,000,000 Rials)! You can watch the auction live, here, to see what this year’s auction brings in.

Unedited History Iran | A Fresh View of Art and Visual Culture in Iran, 1960 – 2014

Check out what looks to be a fabulous exhibition about contemporary Iranian art from the 60s until the present. Do we have major Paris envy right now? Mais oui, mes amis!

The Museum of Modern Art in Paris will host a group exhibition of works by some of the greatest Iranian contemporary artists. Entitled “Unedited History, Iran 1960-2014”, the exhibition kicks off on May 16, 2014.

The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is presenting UNEDITED HISTORY, Iran 1960-2014 at ARC. Comprising over 200 works for the most part never shown in France before, the exhibition brings a fresh eye to art and visual culture in Iran from the 1960s up to the present. Its survey of the contemporary history of the country is arranged in sequences; the years 1960–1970, the revolutionary era of 1979, the Iran-Iraq war (1980–1988) and the postwar period up until today.

Bringing together twenty artists from the years 1960–1970 and representatives of the new generation, the exhibition focuses on painting, photography and cinema, as well as key aspects of Iran’s modern visual culture: posters and documentary material ranging from the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of the Arts to the revolutionary period and the Iran-Iraq war. Whether already historic figures (Bahman Mohassess, Behdjat Sadr, Kaveh Golestan, Bahman Jalali) or members of the contemporary scene (Barbad Golshiri, Arash Hanaei and others), all the artists base their work on a critical approach to form and media. Down the generations, they have played their part in a reassessment of the way the political and social history of their country has been written. The exhibition and its accompanying book invite us to broaden our perception of Iran and its modernity.

Director: Fabrice Hergott
Curator: Catherine David, Odile Burluraux, Morad Montazami, Narmine Sadeg, Vali Mahlouji – Archéologie de la Décennie Finale

Morteza Avini (1947-1993), Mazdak Ayari (né en 1976), Kazem Chalipa (né en 1957), Mitra Farahani (née en 1975), Chohreh Feyzdjou (1955-1996), Jassem Ghazbanpour (né en 1963), Kaveh Golestan (1950-2003), Barbad Golshiri (né en 1982), Arash Hanaei (né en 1978), Behzad Jaez (né en 1975), Bahman Jalali (1944-2010), Rana Javadi (née en 1953), Khosrow Khorshidi (né en 1932), Bahman Kiarostami (né en 1978), Parviz Kimiavi (né en 1939), Ardeshir Mohassess (1938-2008), Bahman Mohassess (1931-2010), Morteza Momayez (1935-2005), Tahmineh Monzavi (née en 1988), Mohsen Rastani (né 1958), Narmine Sadeg (née en 1955), Behdjat Sadr (1924-2009), Kamran Shirdel (né en 1939), Kourosh Shishegaran (né en 1944), Behzad Shishegaran (né en 1952), Esmail Shishegaran (né en 1946).
Archaeology of the Final Decade presents Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis and Kaveh Golestan – Shahr-e No.

Published by Paris Musées, Unedited History, Iran 1960–2014 oscillates between past and present, combining details of the works with critical essays and historical documentary material and bringing a fresh perspective to local-global interaction in the Iranian art context. Among the authors: Vali Mahlouji, Bavand Behpour, Hamed Yousefi, Anoush Ganjipour, Catherine David and Morad Montazami. There will also be a selection of texts going in greater detail into the issues raised by the exhibition.
A program of encounters, talks and screenings will accompany the exhibition which will run until August 24, 2014 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

[Source: www.mam.paris.fr via Tavoos Online Magazine]