The Promise of Loss: A Contemporary Index of Iran opens TOMORROW, Artist’s Talk SATURDAY

Our gallery is opening an exhibition on contemporary Iranian art tomorrow. I knew little to nothing about the art scene in Iran before preparing for this, there is still lots to learn and every step of the way is fascinating. There will be an artist’s talk on Saturday with a few participating artists and independent curator Layla Diba, moderated by the one and only Hrag Vartanian. We will discuss the art scene in Iran, how the art practice has transformed over the last decade, and how artists function in and out of the political and cultural issues prevalent in the region. It will be a learning experience.

The Promise of Loss: A Contemporary Index of Iran

Curated by Shaheen Merali

January 14th, 2010 – February 27th, 2010

Press Preview: January 14th 2010, 5 – 6pm

Opening Reception: January 14th 2010, 6-8pm

Artist’s Talk: January 16th 2010, 3pm

New York, NY, January 14th, 2010 – Arario New York in collaboration with Galerie Hilger Vienna is pleased to present The Promise of Loss: A Contemporary Index of Iran, an exhibition curated by Shaheen Merali. An exhibition of works created by young Iranian artists, the show aims to provide a glimpse into the contemporary art world and culture of Iran, uniting both internationally established artists with new and emerging talents to engage in a multifarious challenge to conventional perceptions of the country through the works of over a dozen artists living in and out of Iran.

The exhibition has traveled to New York from BrotKunsthalle in Vienna where it was shown for the first time based on the extensive knowledge and research of the renowned curator Shaheen Merali. Speaking about the show, Merali explains:

“The exhibition is a consolidation of many dashed hopes, a desire to build a shrine as well as to plant trees in the campus condemned to destruction. The artists enable both a reading of the situation and encouragement to cross the distance where the bitterness of loss reigns within the national moral. The Promise of Loss is organized to mine the huge ground of Iran. The connection of expertise to experience, the rhythm of its measures and the constancy of the artistic gaze into its shadows has made listening to the artists’ renditions more urgent.”

Artists in the exhibition include: Samira Abbassy, Iman Afsarian, Asgar/Gabriel, Masoumeh Bakhtyari, Shahram Entekhabi, Parastou Forouhar, Shadi Ghadirian, Babak Golkar, Peyman Hooshmandzadeh, Abbas Kowsari, Mandana Moghaddam, Amin Nourani, Sara Rahbar, Neda Razavipour, Behrang Samadzadegan, Rozita Sharafjahan, and Jinoos Taghizadeh.

Artist’s Talk: January 16th, 3pm

We are grateful to be joined by three participating artists as they discuss their practice in and out of the current political context in Iran. Samira Abbassy, Asgar/Gabriel, Babak Golkar will be accompanied by Layla Diba, Independent Curator of Islamic Art and moderated by Hrag Vartanian, art writer and editor of Hyperallergic.

The Artists

Abbas Kowsari (b. 1970 in Tehran, Iran) is active both in Iran and abroad as a photographer and a photo editor for various publications. He is currently the Senior Photo Editor for the Farhikhtegan Newspaper in Tehran, and has worked for others such as the Sarmayeh Economics Newspaper, as well as several that have been banned from publishing. Meanwhile his photographs have appeared in prestigious international publications such as The New York Times, Time Magazine and Der Spiegel, and have been used by labels such as Benetton. He has taken part in international photography exhibitions and was shortlisted for the 2009 Prix Pictet, which this year deals with the topic of the environment.

Amin Nourani (b. 1965 in Tehran, Iran) is a painter active in his hometown of Teheran. He has had three solo exhibitions in Iran, and has participated in more than fifty group exhibitions. A member of the Iranian Society of Painters (SIP), he is the founder of the Shen [Sand] Atelier and works as a fine arts instructor for various art institutions in Iran.

Asgar/Gabriel (b. 1975 in Tehran, Iran and Vienna, Austria) is the creative painter duo Daryoush Asgar and Elisabeth Gabriel, who have been collaborating artistically since 2005. Highly active over the last four years, Asgar/Gabriel has enjoyed both solo exhibitions and taking part in numerous group shows around the globe.

Babak Golkar (b. in Berkeley, USA) is a Canada-based artist, who since 2002 has taken part in a large number of shows around Europe, Asia, Canada and the U.S.A. As well as being a practicing artist, Golkar has curated and co-curated several exhibitions in Canada, and has taught at the University of British Columbia, the Vancouver Film School and the Emily Carr Institute. His activity has granted him numerous awards since 1999, such as the Helen Pitt Award in 2003, the VADA Award in 2006, and this year’s grant from the British Columbia Arts Council Production.

Behrang Samadzadegan (b. 1979 in Tehran, Iran) is a contemporary painter who was raised and educated in Iran, and is the 2008 winner of the Golden Feather Award from the 1st International Media Art Festival (IMAFY) in Cairo. He is a member of the Association of Iranian Painters (AIP), and the Visual Editor of Iran’s electronic magazine tehranavenue.com. Since 1999 he has taken part in several shows around the world, has been published in various magazines and websites, and has been teaching at numerous Iranian universities.

Iman Afsarian (b. 1974 in Iran) is a realist painter who, alongside having participated in numerous group exhibitions in Iran, Russia and Germany, has given lectures at the Ferdousi University, and published papers in Herfeh:Honarmand and Tandis magazines.

Jinoos Taghizadeh (b. 1971 in Tehran, Iran) is an artist who works with various forms of media, including sculpture, pottery, graphic design, performance art, installation and film. She has participated in over thirty group shows around the world, and has hosted nine solo exhibitions, predominantly within Iran. Aside from her active artistic career, Taghizadeh has been on the board of several influential artistic committees, such as the 4th Sculpture Biennial of Tehran and the Managing Board of Iranian Sculptor’s Society. Since 2001 she has been on the Board of Editors for a popular Iranian internet magazine, tehranavenue.com.

Mandana Moghaddam (b. in Tehran, Iran) is an artist who works mainly in the mediums of sculpture and installation, taking inspiration from her personal and national history. Within her work she tackles the difficult subjects of religion, revolution and war. Speaking about Sarah’s Paradise, the artist explains: “Sara is an old and historical name, [which] reminds us of the promised land, paradise, and the biggest cemetery in Tehran that is named ‘Beheste zahra’ which means ‘Zahra’s Paradise’”.

Masoumeh Bakhtiari (b. 1966 in Tehran, Iran) is a painter who works and lives in Iran, and has participated in several Iranian group exhibits, as well as solo shows in the U.S.A.

Neda Razavipour (b. 1969 in Tehran, Iran) currently lives and works in Tehran, but was educated in Paris between 1992-1997. Since 1996 the artist has been involved in numerous international contemporary art exhibitions, and has shown works in various mediums, such as video installation, installation,  Environmental Art, urban performance, photography, stage design, and drawing. Active in different artistic fields, is the co-founder of Studio Jalleh, the public performance and installation group MOVAZI, and the Leeve Theater Company in Teheran. Razavipour has also had  experience in the field of arts management, has curated exhibitions and held the post of Art Director of the Katibeh Art Gallery in Tehran between 2001-2002.

Parastou Forouhar (b. 1962 in Tehran, Iran) is an artist who since 1991 has lived and worked in Germany. Having completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Teheran, she received multiple grants for further study, for example those of the Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, and the Villa Massimo in Rome. Forouhar is co-curator of Treibsand, a contemporary art magazine, and has since 2001 taken part in over twenty group and solo shows around the world.

Peyman Hooshmandzadeh (b. 1969 in Tehran, Iran) is a writer and photographer, working and living in Teheran. His oeuvre has been covered in an impressive number of photography exhibitions, held mainly in Iran and various European countries. Having won an astounding eighteen literature and photography prizes, such as the 2007 First ‘Golden Pen’ Prize at the Zamaneh Stories Festival in the Netherlands, and the 2006 First Prize at the 1st Shouka Photography Awards in Tehran, Hooshmandzadeh has earned his name not only as an artistic photographer, but also as a writer of fiction, a journalist, and a photojournalist. He is the photo editor of several publications, including the Gozaresh-e Rooz, and Goonagoon newspaper‌s, is one of the founding members of Iran’s 135 PHOTOS Agency, and regularly works for Reuters. He has authored four fiction books, and is a contributing writer to several publications including Literary Monthly and Photography Monthly.

Rozita Sharafjahan (b. 1962 in Tehran, Iran) is an artist who works in the mediums of painting, installation and video installation, and has taken part in numerous exhibitions in the last twenty years. Sharafjahan’s Winter 1970 is a reaction to the 1971 Marxist guerrilla attack on a police post in the north of Iran. As suggested by Bavand Behpoor, Sharafjahan’s Winter 1970 brings into mind “the startling innocence of detainees’ shirts in Auschwitz: pale blue and grey shirts. To me, they appeared as the absolute embodiment of a lack, of fragility and vulnerability”.

Samira Abbassy (b. 1965 in Ahwaz, Iran) was raised and grew up in the United Kingdom, and began her artistic career in London’s galleries in the 1980s, winning awards and having her work acquired for the British Government Art Collection. In the late 1990s the artist moved to New York, where she continued her successful gallery career, helped to set up the Elizabeth Foundation, and received awards such as the Yaddo Fellowship in 2006, and an NYFA in 2007. Throughout her career Abbassy has taught at several universities and colleges, has enjoyed countless exhibitions around the world, and has been reviewed in publications like the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Times and Elle Magazine. Her work has since been acquired by large institutions such as the Rubin Museum and the British Museum in 2008, and her paintings have been widely used in popular culture. Her paintings can be found, for example, featured on the covers of popular novels, and even making appearances in Hollywood blockbusters.

Sara Rahbar (b. 1976 in Tehran, Iran) studied Fine Art and Design in London, and has taken part in over twenty European and worldwide art exhibitions in the last four years. She has been mentioned in countless publications and articles, and has recently had her work purchased by Paris’ Centre Pompidou. Aside from practicing art, Rahbar has had extensive experience in teaching, freelance photography, film, and even the music industry through her work with Yas, Iran’s biggest name in Hip Hop.

Shadi Ghadirian (b. 1974 in Tehran, Iran) is a contemporary photographer who works for Akskhaneh Shahr, Tehran’s first museum of photography, holds the post of Photo Editor for womeniniran.com, and is famous for having created the first Iranian website dedicated exclusively to contemporary photography. She has taken part in international exhibitions since 1997, and her works have been purchased for the permanent collections of the world’s most prestigious institutions, such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Vienna’s Mumok, and the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Saatchi Gallery in London.

Shahram Entekhabi (b. 1963 in Beroujerd, Iran) is an artist who lives and works in Berlin, and is active in the fields of video art, photography, painting, drawings, installation, performance and architecture (he was involved in many residential projects and competitions in Berlin). He is the founder and director of several international art projects, such as the 2008 WL PROJECT and the 2009 I RAN Home project. Awarded numerous grants, awards, and scholarships, such as the recent 2009 Research/Creation grant of Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation & National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Entekhabi has been hugely active and has participated in over one hundred art projects in the last six years.

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