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
FLOWER POWER/A NEW DAY
Almost every culture, past and present, have some sort of ritual to celebrate the promise of spring and new beginnings. In the visual vocabulary, blooming blossoms and flowering buds often signify the end to dark winters and the beginning of new and fresh days to come. Using flowers as a subject or material has been commonplace for artists and creatives for centuries.
“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment”, Georgia O’Keeffe
The hippy flower children in the 1960s and 1970s protested and demonstrated their power softly and passively in the manner of their hero Gandhi (the Babaji of Indian independence). This exhibition is also about that sort of resistance and power and at the same time about the Sufi power of love. Love is the subtext of all life and understanding.
The exhibition coincides with the celebration of the Persian new year, otherwise known as NOW ROUZ, a non-religious celebration.
The exhibition features an array of works, embodying both the stylistic elements and socio-political spirit, including artworks by Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Alessandro Twombly, Jean-Claude Carrière, Mikhalis Makroulakis, Fereydoun Ave, Shaqayeq Arabi, Parvaneh Etemadi, Ali Golestaneh, Robert Jacob, Rana Javadi, Shahla Hosseini Barzi, Houda Khalladi, Mohseni Kermanshahi, Leyly Matine-Daftary, Malekeh Nayiny, Sara Dehghan, Sale Sharifi, Salim Karimi, Zabiholla Mohamadi, Mansour Rafie, Vahid Sharifian, Fereshteh Setayesh, Mariam Ketiat, Steven Gifford.
The exhibition also includes a soundscape by Bijan Hazrat and a screening of "Taking Off”, a film by Milos Forman and Jean-Claude Carrière.
FLOWER POWER by JEAN-CLAUDE CARRIÈRE
In the course of two or three years, the flower believed it had seized power in the United States of America. It claimed that it was above arms and violence and was going to reign over the world.
In March 1968, I joined Milos Forman in New York. His wish was to make a film on this new youth movement called “Hippy” and the new era that lay ahead.
We set ourselves up at the Chelsea Hotel, the undisputed centre of the “counter-culture”. The contraceptive pill had been openly sold for a year and 1967 had already experienced a “summer love”. The entire youth, united against the Vietnam war, seemed to be under the influence of “flower power”. Flowers were everywhere, over faces, on girls’ dresses and in the prairies of Central Park, where, on a Sunday, we found ourselves amongst crowds singing and dreaming under the light of marijuana.
“Peace and love” was their motto.
Some went to work on roller skates, girls got naked to have their bodies painted over in any fashion. This was called “body painting”. On the streets, strangers jumped in your face to give you a kiss.
Most of them dreamed of new artistic forms that they named “psychedelic”, a word whose meaning has always escaped me.
Born in San Francisco, the movement reached Chicago and New York. St. Mark’s Place, in the East Village, was its centre; today, a street like any other. Following diverse incidents, all rather tragic, returning to Europe, the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact Troops in August – Milos, in September, decided to return to New York. He was supported by Claude Berri who had named Jean-Pierre Rassam as executive producer.
I accompanied Milos on the trip. We settled in the East Village and immersed ourselves in the “flower world”. We hung out with those whom the conservatives (square people) called “freaks”. We received them at our place, knowing the likes of Janis Joplin who would even come to visit and talk – using slang which took us some time to comprehend since flowers don’t talk like us. In fact, certain scenes from the film which got to be titled “Taking Off” had to be given subtitles later in London.
A strange hope was there, right under our eyes. Would it lift and transform the planet?
Very rapidly, all were abandoned. The war in Vietnam continued. Janis Joplin and other stars died victims of drug overdoses. Flowers withered, and old habits rapidly returned. “Taking Off” was the only film based on this ephemeral power, on this insane hope which was rapidly dashed. It was made on the spot in 1970 and with quite a modest budget.
Today, it remains the only filmed testimony of the passage of a flowery dream among young Americans whom I had the chance to get to know and love. Nowadays, when adult Americans watch a film (something quite rare), it makes them laugh a lot. They laugh at their youthful days. That’s at least something.
Press coverage of the exhibition on Gulf News
Virtual tour of Flower Power/A New Day Exhibition