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From Tehran to London

Jill George Gallery


New Painting from Iran – 7 artists living and working in Tehran 20 May – 18 June 2010 An exhibition curated by David Gleeson and Aras Amiri in collaboration with Azad Gallery in Tehran Paintings by

Marzieh Bagheri Masoumeh Bakhtiary Azadeh Baluchi Samira Eskandarfar Khosro Khosravi Hamed Sahihi Mohammad Mehdi Tabatabaie

Jill George Gallery 38 Lexington Street Soho London W1F 0LL Telephone 020 7439 7319 email info@jillgeorgegallery.co.uk www.jillgeorgegallery.co.uk Open Mon-Fri 10.00-6.00 • Thurs until 8.00 • Sat 11.00-5.00

Azad Art Gallery


Since the Revolution of 1979, Iran has been depicted as an oppressively rigid and censorious theocracy, provoking both awe and derision in the West. At the same time, it is acknowledged as a centre of fashionable artistic creativity: the films of Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf, for example, have long been acclaimed as hugely important, and exhibitions of Iranian visual arts have appeared at highly prestigious European venues. But all this gives only a vague idea of the hugely vibrant and flourishing creativity of major Iranian cities. Contemporary Iranian art has come of age and is at last being taken seriously by the Western art world. No longer should it be merely confined to exotic shows by institutions keen to prove the width of their international vision. This exhibition will introduce new work by celebrated Tehrani painters for the first time in London alongside some striking imagery from recent graduates of Tehran’s Sooreh University. Masoumeh Bakhtiary’s simple, almost graphic pictures shown here are a response to the political turmoil of last summer, exploring political and social unease. Samira Eskandarfar’s striking and dramatic characters often include brief aphorisms in Farsi and echo Frida Kahlo’s intense self portraits, whose imagery she uses as a metaphor for the depiction of women. Khosro Khosravi paints dark and haunting tableaux that paradoxically reveal his skill as a colourist whilst referencing Iranian history and the dichotomy between the public and private realms of its society. Mohammad Mehdi Tabatabaie’s remarkable, large-scale panels comment on the tension between modernity and tradition, juxtaposing his personal diaries with Tehran’s urban

strife last year. Hamed Sahihi’s intriguing paintings, with bizarre, idealised landscapes, or small people whose identities are erased, are poetic metaphors for a dreaming, dystopian society and the strictures imposed on its citizens. New painter Marzieh Bagheri has produced a fascinating series of paintings that use cars and women as metaphors to explore the unrealised ambitions of post-revolutionary Iran; and her fellow graduate Azadeh Baluchi has produced beautifully delicate images that hint at the position and identity of modern Iranian women. As well as allowing a modest glimpse of Tehran’s flourishing visual arts scene, we hope that this show will undermine lazy assumptions of Iran as a country that stifles originality and creativity; and where, despite prevailing attitudes, men and women are producing vibrant and beautiful work every bit as accomplished as whatever currently dominates the international art market. The inspired creativity of contemporary Iranian painting is a cultural reproof to any stereotypical preconceptions of the place and its art. The political and social tensions of the country find articulation in the work of these artists in expressive, poetic and sometimes unexpected ways, commenting on the conditions of their production whilst contributing to the language of international painting. These images are beautiful, compelling, sad, fascinating and humorous, and show Iran to be a crucible of intense avantgarde creativity.

David Gleeson and Aras Amiri London, April 2010

Marzieh Bagheri ‘It is, As it is’, acrylic on canvas, 39.5" x 59", 100 x 150 cm, 2009 2

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Marzieh Bagheri ‘It is, As it is’, acrylic on canvas, 53" x 78.75", 135 x 200 cm, 2009

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Azadeh Baluchi

Azadeh Baluchi

‘Utopia Ophelia’, acrylic on canvas, 47.25" x 39.5", 120 x 100 cm, 2008

‘Utopia Ophelia’, acrylic on canvas, 39.5" x 39.5", 100 x 100 cm, 2008 7


Masoumeh Bakhtiary ‘Moharreb’, acrylic and ink on canvas, diptych, 39.5" x 39.5", 100 x 100 cm, and 12.5" x 12.5", 30 x 30 cm, 2010

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Masoumeh Bakhtiary ‘Denial’, acrylic and ink on canvas, 39.5" x 59", 100 x 150 cm, 2010

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Samira Eskandarfar

Samira Eskandarfar

‘It’s a Cat’s Life’, oil on canvas, 39.5" x 47.25", 100 x 120 cm, 2008

‘She was Alone’, oil on canvas, 39.5" x 31.5", 100 x 80 cm, 2008 13


Khosro Khosravi ‘Silent’, oil on canvas, 67" x 51", 170 x 130 cm, 2009

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Khosro Khosravi ‘Silent’, oil on canvas, 55" x 71", 140 x 180 cm, 2009

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Hamed Sahihi

Hamed Sahihi

‘Marco Polo’, acrylic on canvas, 55" x 63", 140 x 160 cm, 2009

‘What Would You Do?’, triptych, acrylic on canvas, 15.75" x 51", 40 x 130 cm, 2010 19


Mohammad Mehdi Tabatabaie ‘Untitled’, triptych, oil on canvas, 47.25" x 86.5", 120 x 220 cm, 2009

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Marzieh Bagheri Born Hamadan, 1984. Graduated Sooreh University Tehran in 2009.

The artists have exhibited widely in Iran with the exception of the two recent graduates, Marzieh Bagheri and Azadeh Baluchi, who have only exhibited in Tehran prior to this exhibition.

Masoumeh Bakhtiary Born Tehran, 1966, Graduated Tehran University 1991 and Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran 1999. Exhibited in USA.

Tehran’s Tarahan Azad (‘Free Design’) Gallery started in 1999 as a group of intellectuals and artists bringing together creative people in Iran’s first post-revolutionary underground artistic centre. Founded and led by artist Rozita Sharafjahan, the Gallery remains Iran’s most inspiring and influential centre for contemporary art.

Azadeh Baluchi Born Tehran 1985. Graduated Sooreh University Tehran in 2009. Samira Eskandarfar Born Tehran, 1980. Graduated Imam Khomeini International University, Ghazvin Iran, 2001 and University of Tehran 2006. Exhibited in France, Italy, Germany, Turkey and USA. Her work was purchased by Tate Modern, London in 2010. Khosro Khosravi Born Tehran, 1965. Graduated Tehran University 1991. Exhibited in Europe, India and Armenia and Tate Modern, London in 2007. Hamed Sahihi Born Tehran, 1980. Graduated from Tehran University of Fine Arts, 2003. Exhibited in China, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey and USA. Mohammad Mehdi Tabatabaie Born Tehran, 1966. Graduated from School of Fine Arts, Tehran, 1986 and Tehran Art University 1991. Exhibited in Slovenia, Serbia and Japan.

Mohammad Mehdi Tabatabaie ‘Street’ (detail), sextet, oil and mixed media on canvas, 19.5" x 118", 50 x 300 cm, 2009 22

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Jill George Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of Azad Gallery, BAKE, Manouchehr Ghezelayagh, Ali Reza Emrani, Zari Khatami and Naser Amiri. Jill George Gallery would like to thank David Gleeson, Aras Amiri who curated the exhibition and especially Rozita Sharafjahan, whose invaluable help and assistance made this exhibition possible. David Gleeson would especially like to thank the following people who made visiting Tehran to select the work so enjoyable: Fereydoun Ave, Saeed and Fariba, Omid, Ali, Behrooz and Minou, and everyone at Azad Gallery. To Shahryar for the text translation. And Bob O’Dell for everything in London. Finally and most importantly our thanks to the seven artists, Marzieh Bagheri, Masoumeh Bakhtiary, Azadeh Baluchi, Samira Eskandarfar, Khosro Khosravi, Hamed Sahihi and Mohammad Mehdi Tabatabaie for agreeing to participate.

Catalogue designed by FONDA, London Printed by Control Print, Redruth, Cornwall ISBN 978-0-9554371-4-4 © Jill George Gallery and Azad Gallery © Text David Gleeson and Aras Amiri

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From Tehran To London