Brief History of Modern Art in Iran
The modern art movement in Iran began in the late 1940’s to early 1950’s, after Reza Shah’s abdication which allowed for more Iran-Western contact (Ekhtiar and Sardar). Academic painting no longer was the default and ultimately resulted in a new generation of Iranian artists who were innovators in a period where they could openly question authority (Ekhtiar and Sardar). This was especially seen at the College of Fine Arts. Calligraphy, religion and Iran’s geography started to be artistically explored(Ekhtiar and Sardar). Through the 1950’s to the 1970’s, Iranian art opened into the international art scene (Ekhtiar and Sardar). Then the 1979 Revolution happened. Iranian art became focused on the war between Iran and Iraq(1980-1988) and the horrific results (Ekhtiar and Sardar). After the end of the Iran-Iraq war, there are many Iranian artists producing art outside of Iran(Ekhtiar and Sardar). All of the artists I included in this piece do not live in Iran but their art reflects the love they have for their culture, the struggles they have had because of the War, and the resulting sense of displacement.
Born on September 2, 1936 in Masshad, Iran; Iran Darroudi’s first teacher was her father (Shahroki). Her mother also contributed to Darroudi’s cultured upbringing through teaching her piano (Shahrokhi). Together, Darroudi’s parents installed in her a passion for both music and art (Shahrokhi).
Darroudi has a great love for Iran and its culture, despite living abroad most of her life, especially in France (Shahrokhi). She expresses this love in both her lectures and her works, like Steadfastness (Shahrokhi).
From her interview with Shamsi Shahrokhi, Darroudi writes:
“I have learned the culture of today’s painting in France, but I am rooted in my fatherland’s culture. Painting is an art which, I believe, reveals the painter’s national identity. I am proud of the identity that transpires of my paintings.”
Reflections on Steadfastness
Steadfastness (painted in 1987, most likely in France) is soft in its curves,lighting, palette but not in its content. In the distance there is darkness and dire sprouting from far-off buildings. But in the foreground, there is a soft resilience of sorts in the crumbled buildings and the gentle sweep of the sand. Destruction can be beautiful because in recovering from destruction there is strength, or steadfastness.
This painting reminds me of a line I heard from a documentary on Wonder Woman- that the reason for her being chained up so often was in order to see her break them off. To grow, people there must be obstacles and there is beauty in overcoming hardships. Being older than the other artists I included, Darroudi has been through more of the rapid changes in Iran and this work reflects her own resilience, as both an artist and an individual, through all of these events.
Nurieh Mozaffari was born in 1960, in Iran (Nurieh Mozaffari: Biography). Mozaffari was 18 years old when she started to pursue painting seriously. She completed a Master’s degree in Painting in 1996 at the Art University (Nurieh Mozaffari: Biography). In her creations (mainly mixed media), Mozaffari is intimately inspired by her cultural heritage (Nurieh Mozaffari: Biography).
Mozaffari life is spent travelling and living between the United States, Canada and Europe (Nurieh Mozaffari: Biography ).
Reflections on Divine Love
Divine Love (created in 2012, place unknown) is interesting to me because of the depiction of religion. Mozaffari used 23K gold in the making of this piece, and I think that is very interesting given the subject of religion. I love how dark the figure is and the bright mix of colors swirling around inside the figure. The white, almost creamy background reminds me of Darroudi’s Steadfastness. I believe this background is of sands.
I wonder if the color being ‘brought’ to the darkened figure is the result of religion- I write this because of the swirls (or calligraphy as Mozaffari is known to incorporate into her works) coming from the left side of the painting. To me, they seem to be spraying onto the figure. I also think this would make the female figure a canvas of sorts where religion is the painted pattern and swirls, symbolizing the divine love for which the piece is named.
Sara Rhabar was born in 1976, in Tehran, Iran (Biography). Currently, Rahbar lives and works in New York City(Biography). Rahbar does not confine herself to one medium; she has done photography, sculpture and even installations. Also, many of these works are mixed media, including the above Anonymously yours (Biography). These works do have one aspect in common, they all stem from Rahbar’s personal experience and personal beliefs(Biography).
Reflections on Anonymously yours
Anonymously yours (created in 2012, most likely in New York City) is so visually complex to me because of the materials used in its creation. I love the earthy colors and the direct dialogue of religion, war and death (especially concerning the history of Iran). The skeleton reduces the human figure to the literal bare bones, and demonstrates the connection of religion and death. It is interesting to think what is 3D in the picture- the bullets/shells are real ones, the rosary and cross are real, the canvas is real. The only representation is the skeleton, the person. The anonymously refers to the skeleton, as without flesh and blood, there is now way to specifically identify the ‘who’ of the skeleton.
I also think Anonymously yours is interesting as a contrast to Mozaffari’s Divine Love as both deal with religion in visually different ways. Both show a figure, on their knees in a praying position, though Anonymously yours had the head tilted up more towards the heavens while Divine Love is more level, as if staring in the distance. The ‘who’ in Divine Love is slightly less ambiguous than Anonymously yours as it (most likely) depicts a female person but in both works, the human subject is metonymic, using a single figure to represent a population or a nation itself.
“Biography.” Sara Rahbar. Sara Rahbar, 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.sararahbar.com/index.php?page=25>.
Darroudi, Iran. Steadfastness. 1987. Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran. The Painter: Iran Darroudi. Irandarroudi,com. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.irandarroudi.com/Tablo%202.html>.
Ekhtiar, Maryam and Marika Sardar. “Modern and Contemporary Art in Iran”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ciran/hd_ciran.htm (October 2004).
Mozaffari, Nurieh. Divine Love. 2012. Janet Rady Fine Art, London.Focusing on the Middle East. Janet Rady Fine Art, 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. http://www.janetradyfineart.com/search/?artist_id=81&price_low=low&price_high=high&show=all&browse-submit=BROWSE&#!830. “Nurieh Mozaffari: Biography.” Focusing on the Middle East. Janet Rady Fine Art, 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.janetradyfineart.com/artist/Nurieh_Mozaffari/biography/>. Rahbar, Sara. Anonymously yours. 2012. Confessions, New York. Sara Rahbar. Sara Rahbar, 2012. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.sararahbar.com/index.php?page=27>. Shahrokhi, Shamsi. “Iran Darroudi : A Never Ending Artist.” Persian Tribune RSS. Persian Tribune, 31 July 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.persiantribune.ca/795/art/iran-darroudi-a-never-ending-artist>