Visual Dialogues | The Book of Kings | Shirin Neshat & Fereydoun Ave | March 2019
Secret of Words
Mehran Mohajer & Sadegh Tirafkan
Total Arts Gallery at the Courtyard and Massoud Nader Present exhibition of Photography by Sadegh Tirafkan with support of Silk Road Gallery this exhibition is accompanied by photographs of Mehran Mohajer Sadegh Tirafkan is a persevering artist who navigates through time and culture in search of his place and identity as an Iranian man in the contemporary world. The medium of photography has become his main platform to construct powerful visual plays, using a combination of elements that he seasons sufficiently with symbolism.
The significance of symbolism throughout Tirafkan’s body of work comes from his Persian root in which direct dialogue is rarely used, but frequently replaced by symbolic languages. How do you inform a culture that has three thousand years of history, rich in tradition and essentially a homogenous and male dominated society? Tirafkan expresses his concerns through images of numerous self-portraits and portraits of friends. He once said, "I began photography by recording what surrounded me. Now I take what is around me in the studio and make it into what I see through the prism of my life and culture." Tirafkan poses himself and others in the studio time after time to explore the meaning of being a contemporary Iranian. Blending tradition, history and memory, he recreates visually compelling scenes that build visceral connection to his ancient country. And this is where the strength and beauty of Tirafkan's work lie.
In reinventing and revisiting Iranian tradition he is also criticizing and challenging his ancestors' long-standing authority. In spite the highly eloquent appearances; I see two hidden trends in his work, which the artist has perhaps introduced even without realizing it: a theatrical staging of all the historic drama of his country, all the painful events of which he experienced intensely, and a discreet journey towards a spirituality which emanates from his whole vision. Here, Tirafkan surreptitiously rejoins the mystical quest which remains, whether we like it or not, the key-stone of any metaphysical edifice of the Iranian world. Born in Iran in 1965, Tirafkan trained as a photographer at the University of Fine Arts in Tehran. Since the late 1990’s he has participated in numerous solo exhibitions and group shows, in Tehran, Paris and New York.
Tirafkan’s work offers an eloquent meditation on modern Iranian man’s relationship to his past and on his search for a meaningful identity in the present. Identity, history and memory have been central concerns in the work of non-western artists since the era of colonialism. Tirafkan, frequently using himself as a model, revisits and reinvents these themes in his series of enigmatic yet visually compelling photographs. He uses words and symbols to communicate with the audience and
Abstract & Lanscape
A. Mohseni was born in 1960, in Kermanshah west of Iran. He started painting with Master Rahim Navesi before moving to Tehran. He held his first one-man show in 1994 and has come a long way from his humble beginnings. Landscape, traditional life and nature were always his main subjects to paint and after moving to UAE he found this passion in the local scenery. T
his exhibition would be an exceptional one in Mohseni’s career since he is entering a new period after 10 years of professionally painting landscapes and still life witch is still the close to Mohseni’s heart in a different way. Mohseni has participated in more than 40 solo and group exhibitions in Iran including Tehran Contemporary Art Museum, Australia, Kuwait and the UAE. Mohseni has won a special award from Tehran Contemporary Art Museum as the best Artist of the year in 1996. Mohseni has published 2 books, which are: 1. Nature in the painting of Abdol Hossein Mohseni 2. Painting of Abdol Hossein Mohsenis He is working on two new books at present.
TOTAL ARTS GALLERY
at the Courtyard
Second Life is a group exhibition bringing together artworks and installations that explore the act of repurposing objects and materials and question the meaning of natural transformations in a life cycle while addressing environmental consciousness, preservation, and sustainability. The showcased artworks represent an invitation to experience our surrounding spaces with a new perspective, imagining various purposes to the forms that surround us, being functional or abstract, an object or a space, a plant or a building.
Artists, designers and architects have come together with varied installations and designed objects of various mediums and sizes thoughtfully displayed throughout the new space of Total Arts, a former furniture store transformed into an art gallery, impeccably marking the second life of the actual space. The theme of the exhibition resonates with the meticulously renovated space, which captured the unique architectural essence of the former space to emphasize on the importance of preservation and collective memory, once again inviting the visitor to reflect on the meaning of repurposing a space.
Some of the art installations reflect the artist’s connection to natural resources and life forms among them Murmur, a light installation by the designer Grace Yacoub, who worked with locally found tree branches to emphasize on the importance of repurposing but also preserving native trees in the UAE.
Shahad Shehail and Hala Kaiksow use woven palm ropes, crochet, and date pits in their respective installations Renewal and Phalm, celebrating date palms, and their symbolic meaning in the cultural and historical identity of the Gulf Region.
Shaqayeq Arabi’s site-specific installation And there were Gardens… represents an imaginary landscape made out of actual fragments from the artist’s immediate environment as well as remains of plant life from The Courtyard’s garden which is home to Total Arts and the artist’s studio.
From real plants fragments to abstract representation of flora and fauna, natural geometries emerge from Michael Rice’s ceramics, Fereydoun Ave’s paintings from the ongoing series Bitterness of the Old Age, Autumn 2020, celebrate a holistic practice that represents the energy of seasonal cycles.
Artist and sculptor Yasmin Sinai explores the transformation process of a caterpillar through paper-mache sculptures; her installation Metamorphosis can be seen as an analogy to spiritual transformations that humans go through.
The exhibition creates dialogues between the artworks and the actual space; artists Hessa Al Suwaidi and Rashed Qurwash embrace this relationship in an experimental installation of pattern mapping and folding based on extracted patterns from the exhibition space mixed with natural dyes and textiles.
Dariush Zandi’s dramatic black and white photographs of dhows shot in 1983 are displayed on the second floor as an extension of the majestic boat installation, Sinking Ships ironically displayed on top of the existing water fountain, across the ground floor entrance. A haunting memory of what once was, subsequent retrieval and preservation of functional objects discarded or forgotten.
Playing with the architectural features of the space, Hind Bin Demiathan’s video installation I am she who I was or will be uses the mashrabiya window frame to integrate her installation and thus, create an interaction between the visitor and the space.
Through her photographic installation The seven lives of Beit Beirut, architect Diane Mehanna explores the meaning of a place of memory (ies) in the context of Beirut. In her artwork composed of seven framed photo-collage prints, she reflects on the multiple lives of a Beiruti building, questioning the repercussions of intended or unintended architectural transformations on the purpose of a place.
The exhibition is in collaboration with Hamzat Wasl Studio , a design studio based at the Courtyard.