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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Iranian Art

Persian Calligraphy Modern, Kolah Studio
Today I did something it seems like I'm apt to do more and more often these days. I began researching an artist whom I'd already written about--the Iranian painter, Mahmoud Farshchian. I wasted close to an hour in doing so. However, it wasn't a complete waste. In the process I stumbled over a web site promoting his art calling themselves the Iran Politics Club (IPC). Given the name of the group, it wasn't at all what I expected. Oh, there was politics involve. Iran is a hotbed of political unrest. However, in this case, there was more art, or perhaps I should say, "culture," than politics. In a nutshell, the IPC mission is to protect and serve the Persian Culture. The site was not limited to painting, but also a healthy discussion poetry (of anti-Muslim), film, literature, architecture, drama, and other manifestations of the fine arts.
Shepherds in a Landscape, Safavid era, c. 1675.
Landscapes are rare in Iranian art and the human figure
even more so.
The Iran Politics Club supports the fight to establish freedom, secularism, federalism, human rights and democracy in Iran. The IPC embraces all Iranian ethnic and racial groups including, but not limited to: Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Turkmens, Baluchis, Arabs, Jews, Armenians, Assyrians, Blacks, Orientals, Indians and others. The IPC is a club for intellectual discussions and debates about Iran, U.S. and world politics, philosophy, economy, history, sociology, art, science and related subjects. The IPC is a club for "All the People," not for only "some of the people". All nationalities, races, cultures, religions, ideologies; Persians, non-Persians, Zoroastrians, Muslim, Bahaiis, Christians, Jews, Atheists, and all other philosophical, political, and economical ideologies are welcomed. I don't know this for a fact, but my guess is the website is not hosted in Iran.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, out of the blue.
The IPC is typical of a kind of "new awakening," or perhaps a renaissance, in Iranian art. As the painting Persian Calligraphy Modern (top) demonstrates, this revival of sorts is not aimed a jettisoning the past, but embracing it and blending it, especially in the area of painting, as seen in the examples above. It's interesting to note in the work of the Iranian artist mentioned earlier (now living in the U.S.) that Christian iconography has crept into his work as seen in his Born in the Kabbah (above), although the history and religious symbolism involved are complex and deeply intertwined. I'm not sure why, but western style landscapes such as Coastal Landscape by Vadoud Muzzein Zadeh (above) are exceedingly rare in Iranian art.

Iranian Minimalism.

The IPC champions Iranian culture of all types and regardless of any hierarchy of perceived importance. That is to say, furniture design (above) is seen as of equal importance as fashion design (below), though the latter is often at odds with the strict religious prohibitions of Muslim doctrine especially as applied to women. Once more, as in the clash between painting the human figure and traditional calligraphic motifs, there tends to be a blending of the past with the present.
In a culture adverse to several content areas, abstract or non-representational decorative elements make for a natural fit.
Likewise, Iranian architecture years of designing and building mosques. Some of these might arguably be considered among the most beautiful works ever built combining art and man. From their own brand of Gothic (below-top) to 21st-century Cubist Minimalism (below-bottom) we find Iranian architects with far more freedom whether at home or on the far-flung construction sites around the world than the designers of ceramic tiled, onion-domed, minaret adorned religious landmarks ever dreamed of.
International Post-modernism.
One doesn't have to read far into the mission statement of the IPC to realize that, though it purports to preserve, protect, and defend all elements of Iranian culture, it is also written for, and possibly by, Americans, or at least profoundly influenced by American democratic ideals and documents. In some instances, their "manifesto" actually quotes from them. " Do not make the club boring...[but instead] make it hot and exciting. Let us value and build this stand for freedom; let us try to build a better world."
Iranian advertising art--an attempt to avoid boredom.

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