AboutCurated by David Gleeson and Aras Amiri in collaboration with Azad Gallery in Tehran.
Masoumeh Bakhtiary's simple, almost graphic pictures are a response to the political turmoil of last summer, exploring political and social unease. Recent graduate, Marzieh Bagheri has produced a fascinating series of paintings that use cars and women to lament the unrealised ambitions of post-revolutionary Iran; and her fellow graduate Azadeh Baluchi has produced beautifully delicate images that examine the position and identity of modern Iranian women. The vividly coloured subjects of Samira Eskandarfar include brief Farsi aphorisms and Kahlo-esque imagery in work that questions the depiction of women everywhere. Khosro Khosravi paints dark and haunting tableaux that paradoxically reveal his skill as a colourist whilst referencing Iranian history and the dichotomy between the public and private realms of its society. Hamed Sahihi's intriguing paintings, with faceless, confined figures and eerily idealised landscapes, are poetic metaphors for a dreaming, dystopian society. Mohammad Mehdi Tabatabaie's remarkable panels are a personal diary of family life, commenting on the tension of modernity and tradition in the Islamic Republic.
Since the Revolution of 1979, Iran has been depicted as an oppressively rigid and censorious theocracy, provoking both awe and derision in the West. At the same time, it is acknowledged as a centre of fashionable artistic creativity: the films of Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf, for example, have long been acclaimed as hugely important, and exhibitions of Iranian visual arts have appeared at highly prestigious European venues.
But such examples barely scratch the surface of the hugely vibrant and flourishing creative industries in major Iranian cities. Contemporary Iranian art has come of age and is at last being taken seriously by the Western art world. No longer should it be merely confined to exotic shows by institutions keen to prove the width of their international vision. This exhibition will introduce new work by celebrated Tehrani painters for the first time in London alongside some striking imagery from two recent young women graduates of Tehran's Sooreh University.