London-based curator Vali Mahlouji explores the various contexts that underline Farmanfarmaian’s iconic merging of Persian tradition and craft of her native country Iran with genres of western abstraction from the 1960s and 70s onwards.
After twenty-six years of exile following the Iranian revolution, the artist returned in Tehran in 2004 with her work receiving broad recognition and eventually institutional support. To better understand Farmanfarmaian’s work, Mahlouji will examine her cosmopolitan, modernizing impulses and undisciplined return to tradition against the background of the cross-cultural, and emphatically transnational histories of art in the 1960s and 1970s. Her practice will be juxtaposed with and contrasted against a set of prevalent discourses focused on the rediscovery, deconstruction and appropriation of native traditions in the immediate postcolonial period.
Vali Mahlouji is a London-based curator, founder of Archaeology of the Final Decade, independent advisor to the British Museum and director of Kaveh Golestan Estate. Mahlouji’s recent work includes exhibitions at Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Whitechapel Gallery, Photo London, Prince Claus Fund, Singapore International Festival of Arts, Art Dubai Modern, Bergen Triennial, Open Eye Gallery and Dhaka Art Summit 2018. Read more about Mahlouji's advisory role with Art Dubai Modern here
Founded in 2010, Archaeology of the Final Decade (AOTFD) is a non-profit curatorial and educational platform, which researches histories of nations condemned by social displacement, cultural annihilation or deliberate disappearance. AOTFD engages with accounts of culture, which have been lost through material destruction, acts of censorship, political, economic or human contingencies. The research identifies, investigates and re-circulates significant cultural and artistic materials that have remained obscure, under-exposed, endangered, banned or in some instances destroyed. AOTFD materials have been acquired by Tate Modern, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Smithsonian Institute and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).For further more details here.
Farmanfarmaian was born in Qazvin, Iran in 1924. Between 1945 and 1957, she spent her formative years amidst the New York art scene, a time marked by friendships with fellow artists such as Frank Stella and Andy Warhol, before returning to Iran. Exiled following the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Farmanfarmaian returned once again to her native Iran and has been firmly re-established there since 2004. Farmanfarmaian is considered to be one of the most important Iranian artists working today.
Sunset, Sunrise reflects a life lived between two cultures, across histories of East and West. It investigates the abundance and mystery of nature, the universe and our place within it. More than seventy artworks are on display ranging from painting, sculpture, jewellery and tapestry to collages and works on paper. There are previously unseen drawings such as Untitled 4 (2017) and Untitled (2012) together with her signature mirrored pieces. Often kaleidoscopic with rich geometric and architectural forms, these works encapsulate Farmanfarmaian’s ability to merge traditional Persian techniques with contemporary Western abstraction.
This talk took place on 14 November 2018 at IMMA.
You can also read a blog that accompanies this talk /
Image Credit: Monir in her salon 1975_Tehran_Bukhara(Turkoman textile) in background_Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai