Different Perspectives on Modern and Contemporary Iranian Artists
On 3 November 2013, the life and work of Bahman Mohassess was observed through an afternoon in conversation with Iranian filmmaker and writer Ebrahim Golestan, and a biographical history by curator Vali Mahlouji. The event marked the British Museum's acquisition of a group of his important collage pieces, and also included an exclusive screening of the feature film "Fifi Howls From Happiness" by Mitra Farahani, documenting the final days of Mohassess.
By analysing the long-lasting tradition of landscape paintings, metaphorical elements and the transformation of painting history into a more figurative manner during the Ghajar period, Golestan described Mohassess as one of the few artists of his time whose practice was largely involved with subjectivity and humanism. Working during the pre-revolution and modernized era in Iran, Mohassess’ interest in social and political issues made his unique life even more remarkable.
Evoking the fact that art and culture is the common denominator that brings people together, Golestan suggests: “We're from a country with various languages and communities and what keeps us together is being an Iranian. All I want to say is that everyone should strive to keep the culture alive and living."
To view images from the British Museum's collage pieces click here.
"Fifi Howls From Happiness" a film by Mitra Farahani, was also on screen for the first time in the UK. Farahani remarkably provides us with a deep insight to Mohassess’ perception of life and art. Deconstruction, disappearance and death are the concepts with which Farahani guides us through for a better understanding of Mohassess’ artistic standpoint.
Bahman Mohassess (1931-2010) Mohassess was one of the most significant Modernist artists of Iran. Although well known for his remarkably progressive oil paintings, sculptural works and public commissions, for much of his life he remained reclusive, spending his final years in self-imposed seclusion in Rome. Revered as a national icon, he participated in the Venice, Sao Paolo and Tehran Biennales, and produced sculptural commissions to be displayed in Tehran, many of which were destroyed or damaged after the Islamic Revolution.
Mahlouji is a London-based independent curator, art advisor, writer and translator, who trained first in archaeology and philology and later as a psychoanalyst. He is currently independent curatorial adviser to the British Museum on its modern/contemporary Iranian collections. His book,Perspectives on the Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis, by Black Dog Publishing is due in 2015
The Different Perspectives on Modern and Contemporary Iranian Art program sponsored by MOP Foundation, in partnership with the British Museum and in collaboration with independent curator and writer Vali Mahlouji, focuses on the increased interest in Iranian art and features Iranian artists, curators, and critics. These talks explore the oeuvre of significant Iranian artistic figures and assess the legacy and importance of these artists' works within the context of modern and contemporary Iranian art production and beyond. Each panel discussion includes leading figures in the Modern and Contemporary Art industry.