Exhibition

Abbas Kiarostami — a photographic overture

26 May 2009 – 30 May 2009

London, United Kingdom

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On 29 May this year the acclaimed Iranian film director and artist, Abbas Kiarostami, will make his debut as an operatic designer and director with the opening of Cosà ¬ Fan Tutte at London's Coliseum. To coincide with this latest development in Kiarostami's extraordinary career Purdy Hicks Gallery are collaborating with the London based cultural consultancy Candlestar to present a short exhibition of Abbas Kiarostami's recent photographic and film work. Kiarostami is clear about the importance of still photographs, stating, ‘One single picture could be the mother of cinema. That's where cinema starts, with one single picture.' Abbas Kiarostami is an internationally renowned film director, screenwriter and producer, having directed such critically acclaimed works as A Taste of Cherry (1997) and The Koker Trilogy (1987-94). He has directed over forty films and has won numerous awards, including the Palm d'Or in 1997. As well as a distinguished film career, Kiarostami is a poet, photographer and painter. Exhibitions of his work have been held at numerous international museums including MOMA New York, Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran. The exhibition at Purdy Hicks Gallery will focus on selected photographs from three series — Roads, Rain and Snow White. Around the time of the Iranian Revolution, a time of personal crisis, Kiarostami, started to develop his intense interest in still photographs, alongside his interest in moving images. In his photographic work he seeks to distil an image to its barest elements. He has spoken of photography as a purer medium than film, since it is unburdened by narrative and the need to entertain. In Snow White, for example, he explores the motif of trees in snow, setting black silhouettes against the blank white snow to yield images that are at once harsh and sublime. The series was a result of the artist's solitary walks in the winter, in which he covered thousands of miles, looking for film sets. The exhibition will also feature Kiarostami's short film Sleepers which was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2001 and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris in 2007. This well-known floor projection of a good-looking couple sleeping in a life-sized bed is a guilty, voyeuristic pleasure that takes on a heightened eroticism as the woman turns over on her side and the man flexes his fingers. Kiarostami explains why he needs to make photographs: ‘Contemplating the cloudy sky and the massive trunk of a tree under a magical light is difficult when one is alone. Not being able to feel the pleasure of seeing a magnificent landscape with someone else is a form of torture. That is why I started taking photographs. I wanted somehow to eternalize those moments of passion and pain.'

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