Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Iranian Contemporary Art - Book Review in Wallpaper

Worth reading - with a summary of the history of Iranian contemporary art (newer than you'd imagine):

>>The Islamic Republic, which took power in 1979, immediately rejected all modern art as decadent, excluding any discourse. It didn’t help that most forward-thinking artists immediately fled the country for Europe and the US. What replaced the vacuum was reminiscent of Socialist Realism, an art form dominated by the large propaganda murals that for years decorated the urban landscape. This so called ‘Irano-Islamic’ art also included the return of calligraphy, albeit using only religious texts.
Contemporary Iranian art was born at the close of the 20th century under the reformist president Mohammad Khatami. He actively encouraged an external dialogue with western artists as well as with the large Iranian diaspora, for example inviting New York-based artist Shirin Neshat to exhibit in Iran. The internet opened the window for Iranian artists to join the global debate. A new generation of artists, many of them women, emerged and began expressing themselves through other mediums such as video installation and art photography.<<

Me, I'm ordering the book.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kandinsky, the Spiritual in Art, and Islamic Contemporary

Something extraordinary happened in the middle of the Kandinsky show, now up at the Guggenheim Museum: I saw contemporary Islamic art.  

In this Russian-born painter's  patterns and curves and iconography, calligraphy emerged, and story, and the power of line and form -- the way calligraphy converges language and line and form and color --  and "the spiritual in art," as Kandinsky called it, pressed out from the canvases and into the marbled light of the museum.  

It is this, I realized, which draws me to contemporary Islamic painting, as well.  It is here, too, this spiritual in art, this symphony of riches.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Iranian Election Uprisings Interfere With Los Angeles Exhibition

A planned exhibition of Iranian street art in Los Angeles faces problems that result from the June elections and the mass demonstrations that followed them, according to the LA Times:

>>Weeks ago the artist, who goes by the name ICY, tried to send the work to Shahbazi, along with about two dozen other pieces. But a postal employee in Tabriz, Iran, opened the package, inspected the work and deemed it unsuitable for shipping to the U.S.

"He told me we can't send these . . . works because they have green color," ICY wrote in an e-mail.<<

Full story is here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hala El Koussy wins Abraaj Capital Art Prize

Hala El Koussy, a photographer originally from Cairo, has been named the winner of the 2009 Abraaj Capital Art prize, along with Jelle Bouwhuis, director of the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum's Bureau Amsterdam.   El Koussy, who has been working in the Netherlands for the past few years, is known for  photographs that focus on Cairo culture, and on the tensions between reality and the photographic scene (In one project, for instance, she created a photo album of an Egyptian "family" that did not really exist; the portraits in the photos were of people who had no real relationship with one another.)    The $200,000 prize, created by a private-equity firm based in Dubai, will fund an upcoming project to be produced for exhibition at the 2010 Art Dubai.