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
Cy Twombly and the line Calligraphic
When the late great American artist Cy Twombly first heard that the word for ‘calligraphy’ and ‘line’ in Farsi is one and the same, he was tickled pink, exclaiming ‘That’s what I do!” It is in this spirit that Iranian artist Fereydoun Ave – who worked and travelled with Twombly for three decades, remaining close friends until Twombly’s passing in 2011 – has curated Cy Twombly and the Line Calligraphic.
Twombly, a contemporary of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, became known for his use of calligraphy-like forms and a graffiti style of painting; the lines of his delicate and abstract gestures often intersecting with the dripping lines of the paint itself as it made its way down the canvas. Bringing together works from his private collection, Ave has carefully selected pieces by regional artists whose practices resonate with Twombly in this spirit.
The paintings and sculptures in Cy Twombly and the Line Calligraphic encompass both figurative and abstract works. Though different in style and medium, and created by artists drawing on vastly different social, political and stylistic influences, what binds them together is an exploration of line, whether through more traditional calligraphy, or in a keen draughtsmanship. They have been carefully selected by Ave for their resonance with Twombly, either in an artist’s practice as a whole, or in certain unique pieces.
Rokni Haerizadeh, for example, while celebrated for his striking, semi-surreal practice, studied under Ahmad Amin Nazar – here, both master and student have works on display, the deft calligraphic strokes of Amin Nazar’s work complimenting Haerizadeh’s signature curved and curling figures and shapes. Indeed, the use of the line goes deep into Middle Eastern art history, as far back as the art of Miniature painting, which reached its peak during the Saffavid era. For Miniaturists, it is a painstaking technique known as pardakht, in which a small, tiny brush creates almost imperceptible brushstrokes, that the texture and framing of a work reaches completion, elevating the two-dimensional plane.
Later on, the influence of calligraphy and line in Contemporary painting can be seen in the work of maters such as Koorosh Shishegaran. Within the canon of Iranian art, calligraphy came to influence some of the country’s greatest artistic talents. These were divided into two groups – those with a traditional calligraphic background, and those, like Shishegaran, who saw calligraphy and line as a symbol, abstracting it to create motifs throughout their work, rather than treating it for its pure alphabetic properties.
The use of line is not limited to the two-dimensional plane either, as seen in the sculptural works of Shaqayeq Arabi, Habib Farajabadi and Faisal Samra. Here, the line takes on new form as a three-dimensional being, curving and looping as it speaks with the space around it. From the human figures and abstract forms that emerge from Farshid Maleki’s tangled thickets of lines to the philosophical investigations of Ali Talpoor, Cy Twombly And The Line Caligraphic brings all these artists together in dialogue with not just Twombly, but with each other. Each artist’s rich art historical influences and geographies stretch across Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the US and beyond, coming together and melding in a unique meeting of minds.
The full list of artists whose works are represented in the exhibition comprises Ahmad Amin Nazar, Shaqayeq Arabi, Habib Farajabadi, Raana Farnoud, Rokni Haerizadeh, Shahla Hosseini, Farshid Maleki, Yashar Samimi Mofakham, Ardeshir Mohassess, Mehrdad Pournazarali, Faisal Samra, Koorosh Shishegaran, Ali Talpoor and Cy Twombly.