Newsha Tavakolian Wins the 2015 Prins Claus Award

We are excited to learn that Iranian photographer and photojournalist Newsha Tavakolian wins the 2015 Prins Claus Award! Tavakolian will be presented with the prize by Prince Constantijn of The Netherlands at a ceremony held in the Amsterdam Royal Palace on December 2nd. As part of the award, Tavakolian will receive a prize of 100 thousand euros and exhibition of her work will be held in Amsterdam by the Prince Claus Fund Gallery from November 27th and March 4th.

Tavakolian, who is quite active on social media, posted a statement on her Facebook page, which you can read here:

Dear all,

I am extremely humbled and overwhelmed to have been chosen as the winner of the 2015 principal Prince Claus award. I will never forget this day in my life.

Unfortunately it is hard for me to enjoy this prize as much as I would like to, seeing the region where I work and live in flames and tens of thousands seeking refuge in faraway lands.

I had already decided to donate 13.000 euro’s to the Sheed award, a fully independent photography prize in Iran. They will use it for an annual grant for two young photographers, as well as for a 5 year long educational project for young Iranian documentary photographers.

The Mahak charity helps children with cancer. They treated my cousin Ali Reza who suffered from leukemia. Despite the fantastic and free care he did not make it and died age 10. I had long ago decided to support them, the Prince Claus award helps me to donate 10.000 euro’s for their charity.

Animals are the love of my life and there are several good organizations in Iran supporting animals in my country. I salute the often young volunteers who work day in day out in shelters. I will divide 7000 euro’s over some of these organizations
Today I have also decided to donate another 15.000 euro’s to an organization supporting Syrian and Iraqi refugees. I have worked in both their countries and want to give back to all the kindness Iraqi’s and Syrians always welcomed me with, despite the dire circumstances they live in.

Please help me find an organization that helps people in a good and transparent way. All suggestions are welcome. I will report on my Facebook when I made the donations.

I want to dedicate this Award to all colleagues who risk their lives telling stories of others that no one listens too.
Finally, my congratulations to the other winners and deepest gratitude to the Prince Claus Fund and the jury.

Newsha Tavakolian

You can view more of Tavakolian’s work on her website.

Congratulations to Tavakolian on her achievements!

[ Image via Prins Claus Fund ]

A Conversation with Artist Shirin Ettehadieh

Honar Online recently had a conversation with artist Shirin Ettehadieh  regarding her current exhibition Face & Hands at Azad Gallery in Tehran said: “For many years, the subject of my work has been Woman and her hands, and one can always find a trace of women in my work. For this reason, last year I curated an exhibition of works by women artists of different mediums, such as photography, ceramics, and so on… which was highly welcome by the public. In this regard, and to continue with this show, I decided to exhibit my works individually – focusing on the faces and hands of women.

Ettehadieh pointed out that for humans, the hands and face are essential for expressing one’s emotions: “That is how one would be able to interpret someone’s state of mind. Also, I was subconsciously pulled towards this direction – in the previous series, entitled Black Singers, hands were part of the works and an element of the existence of my working subjects. Faces and hands were also elements of the Iranian Tribal Women series, which subconsciously appeared in my works. In my previous exhibitions, some viewers found hands to be a source of inspiration for creating their own pieces and caused them to continue working on it. In this current series, Faces & Hands, I chose to work on the hands and faces of women and created nine large dimension pieces for exhibition.”

In response to a question about why she has chosen women as her main subject, Ettehadieh said: “In my opinion, on whatever path one walks, one must work professionally. Everything cannot work together at once. One must focus on a single element. On the topic of women – I always try to work on a subject that allows me to grasp the depths of that subject and I hope I have been able to do that professionally. The theme of Women will always afford me the opportunity to work more professionally and make me see with more depth.”



[via Honar Online; translated from Persian by Modje Taavon]

Art News Roundup

Art News Roundup! Here are some exciting things going on in the Iranian art world:

  • Tehran’s Laleh Gallery will host an exhibition of the latest works from the students of veteran Assyrian-Iranian artist, Hannibal Alkhas (1930-2010). The exhibition runs until June 21st and features work by Reza Bangiz, Bahram Dabiri, Rozita Sharafjahan, Taraneh Sadeghian, Niloufar Ghaderinejad, Ahmad Vakili, Ali Nedaee, Nasser Mohammadi, Masoud Saadeddin, Katayoun Moghaddam, Hadi ziaeddini, Hamed Sahihi, and others. The exhibition is being held in memory of Alkhas.
  • On view since June 12, Abolghassem Saeedi`s first solo exhibition in Iran, will run for one month at the newly-founded Shahrivar gallery in Tehran. The exhibition will showcase 30 artworks by Saeedi.
  • The 7th Tehran International Sculpture Symposium is to be held from September 23 to October 16. The symposium is organized by Tehran’s Municipality Beautification Organization, and according to Mojtaba Musavi [secretary of the symposium], with the aim to help “beautify the urban environment of the city, causing it to bloom with artistic creations, and familiarize the citizens wit hthe process of making new sculptural designs.”
    • Tehran’s Aun Gallery is hosting an exhibition titled “The Pomegranate Project” until June 24th, featuring artworks by Golnar Dashti and Italian artists Vittoria Bagnoli, Miriam Poggiali, Luca Corti, Stefano Galli, Emanuele Greco – all alumni of the Florence Academy of Art.

    Until next week!

Film Screening At LACMA: Monir

Monir is a 2014 documentary about the life and works of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, one of Iran’s most preeminent artists. Directed by Bahman Kiarostami and produced by Layla Fakhr, Monir is an in depth look at Farmanfarmaian who rose to attention in the 1970s with her breathtaking geometric mirror work. Farmanfarmaian’s recent work is being shown at the Haines Gallery in San Francisco concurrently with a retrospective exhibition of her work in New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

The documentary will be screened at LACMA’s Bing Theater on Thursday, May 26, 2015, 7 PM. The event is free and open to the public. Here’s a little about the film, according to the documentary’s official site,

The film provides a close-up view into a woman’s artistic career that has spanned over half a century. It explores a range of factors that have made her one of the most innovative and influential artists of the Middle East, from her method of constructing mirror mosaics to uncovering her past, the extreme political changes in her own country and her subsequent migration to New York. With a musical score by composer Hooshyar Khayam and the Kronos Quartet, the camera meets Monir, now back in Tehran after 30 years. Her return sparked an artistic rebirth and although she is now aged 90, she is at the peak of her career.

Below is an excerpt from an interview between Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmian and curator of the Guggenheim exhibition, Suzanne Cotter of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal:

For our Persian speakers, here is BBC Persian’s piece on the Monir’s exhibition in New York City’s Guggenheim Museum:

Hope all of you can make it to the screening to enjoy what is sure to be a beautiful, inspiring, and informative film!

[Image via Monir Documentary]


Iran to Address Lack of Copyright

This past Monday marked the Fifth National Convention on Literary and Artistic Works’ Property Law held at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall. The intention of the convention was not to come to a decision as to whether Iran is likely to join the Universal Copyright Convention of Berne, nor is Iran joining the Universal Copyright Convention any time soon. Rather, Ali Jannati – the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance – drew attention to the fact that there can be no hesitation or delay in coming to a solution with respect to safeguarding and preserving Iranian artistic and literary property law.

As of yet, Iran has no laws protecting intellectual property so artists of all mediums have very little legal support if they should need it. Jannati had the following to say about the matter:

“Art and literary ownership is not just a mere legal issue, it is of great significance considering the cultural, social and economic aspects, and that is why we need to concentrate on it as a national topic. We have witnessed an individual who spent his entire life producing an artwork only to have it imitated, leaving the person without any incentive to create a new one. We have also seen or heard that prominent figures have published their works in other countries since they can enjoy their (legal) support. Or that an Iranian publisher publishes a high-quality translation of a book, but within a short period of time a series of low-standard translations of the same book hit the market. These are all warnings indicating that we need to find a final solution for reviving Iranian Art.”

Jannati stressed that the point is to hinder any further decline of the production of Iranian art, saying, “It is not wise to kill more time in this respect. The solution is easy. It is not prudent to seal the country’s borders and turn it into an island. The borders and boundaries are gradually fading away in the present era.”

[via Tehran Times and Iran Daily]

Much Ado About ‘Heech’: Parviz Tanavoli Retrospective at the Davis Museum

175 works by Parviz Tanavoli – long since hailed as the “father of modern Iranian sculpture” – is currently on display at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. This is the first retrospective of Tanavoli’s work held by a museum in the U.S., and the first exhibition of his work in the U.S. since 1976. Spanning the last 50 years of Tanavoli’s career, the retrospective centers on his ‘Heech’ sculptures (the Persian word for ‘nothingness’ and a concept in Sufi philosophy) for which he is most widely recognized, but will also represent works on other mediums such as paint, printmaking, jewelry, and ceramics.

So. Why ‘Heech’? In 2012, Tanavoli was interviewed by the Huffington Post wherein he is asked by the interviewer why he focuses on ‘Heech’ in his artwork. His answer was singularly profound:

Not only was it the attraction of this word — the word and meaning of Heech is so beautiful — but it was also the elegance of the figure of Heech. The slope and elasticity of Heech — the way it can smoothly turn around and associate with chairs and tables and walls and cases and any surrounding objects or space is something I like. And besides that, of course, Heech has a rich story and a long history in our poetry and in our Sufism. It is not simple nothingness. It is a nothingness that voices the wholeness of being. This figure — Heech — makes you think about all of this: of being and not being. Heech, to me, is one word that alone tells the whole story of humanity.

What he says strikes me because the written word is pretty much just visual symbols of the language we use to communicate, yet we never stop to think of words and their physical forms. We don’t consider how perhaps there is more than is being visually communicated to us than just spoken language. Letters, words, written language – they have a physical form that can serve as yet another platform to communicate meaning. A visual structure that reflects the very concepts it conveys linguistically.

Tell me that’s not cool.

To say I admire Tanavoli’s work is an understatement. There are a lot of people who may find the repetition motifs of ‘Heech’ spanning fifty years of one artist’s work to be off-putting or ordinary, but to me it is a testament to those inherent compulsions to completely gut and examine the concepts we find deeply rooted in our cultures. It’s beautiful, and compelling, and so very important.

The retrospective is co-curated by Lisa Fischman; Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director; and Dr. Shiva Balaghi, Brown University and runs until 7 June, 2015. If you are in the area, most definitely check this exhibition out.

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!

Sussan Deyhim at Shulamit!

A must see exhibition that brings forth some of Iran’s most influential literature to the eyes of the international community; Sussan Deyhims solo exhibition titled Dawn of the Cold Season is now on display at the Shulamit Gallery in Venice, California.

The multi faceted event transforms the gallery into a giant instillation piece featuring live performance, music and vocals which were collaborated on between the artist and Golden Globe winning composer Richard Horowitz, and photographs from Deyhims rendition of the famous poems and writings of one of Iran’s most famous literary heroines Forough Farrokhzad. Farrokhzad’s works deal with the themes of beauty, age, and the fleeting and unavoidable presence of time. Deyhim felt a connection between her and the works of the young poet; she saw a lot of herself in Farrokhzad and the similar life they chose to lead as young Iranian female artists.

For me, the most inspiring aspect of this project is the opportunity to introduce the great work and sensibility of an Iranian female icon to the international community. Many Iranian intellectuals consider Forough a cultural godmother of modernist literature in Iran, but she died so young (at the age of 32) that I also think of her as our cultural daughter. A rebel with a cause, Forough spoke with awe-inspiring rawness and maturity. She was an existentialist, feminist provocateur. She was Iran’s Simone de Beauvoir, Frida Kahlo, Maya Deren and Patty Smith all rolled into one. Her work has given me the inspiration to continue my own artistic journey during my 30 years in exile from Iran.”
–Sussan Deyhim

This one of a kind exhibition will take place over a span of multiple events that should not be missed. The exhibit is in place from November 15th to January 10th at Shulamit Gallery. Additionally, the artist herself will be in the gallery on December 11th from 7 – 9 PM to do a live performance of her work AND lucky for us, celebrated art critic Peter Frank will be holding an Art Talk at the gallery on December 13th at 4 PM.

If that wasn’t enough, due to the generous grant from the esteemed Farhang Foundation which gives support to Iranian artists, Sussan Deyhim will also be doing a once in a lifetime theatre performance of this work at the Royce Hall, CAP UCLA on January 23rd 2015. Do not miss the opportunity to see this revolutionary work performed in front of a live audience!

Haft Negah 2014 // Iranian Art Expo

It’s that time of year again!

The Niavaran Culture Center in Tehran hosts the 7th annual edition of Iran’s Seven Views (Haft Neghah), an art expo coordinated by seven major art galleries.

This year, the seven original galleries have invited an additional 7 galleries to part take in the expo. The Aria, Elaheh, Dey, Golestan, Haft Samar, Valli, Mah-e Mehr, The Aran, Etemad, Hanna, Dastaan Basement, Seen, Seyhoun, and Tarrahan-e Azad galleries will all participate in this years celebrations taking place from November 14 to 28.

The exhibition will showcase paintings, sculptures, and calligraphy from 350 artists featuring 400 works that respond to this year’s exhibition motto, “Every Iranian Home, One Artwork”.

Some of the well-known artists showcasing their artworks this year include Sohrab Sepehri, Mohammad Ehsaii, Aidin Aghdashlu, Parviz Tanavoli, Iran Darrudi, Farideh Lashaii and Parvaneh Etemadi.

Make sure not to miss this one of a kind artistic event!