Untitled, by Abolghassem Saidi (1973). Oil on canvas. (Collection of Sam Bayat & Charlotte Denise Madeleine Bayat)

Untitled, by Abolghassem Saidi (1973). Oil on canvas.
(Collection of Sam Bayat and Charlotte Denise Madeleine Bayat)

An upcoming exhibition at the Asia Society in New York City will highlight over 100 pieces of pre-revolution Iranian art – paintings, photography, drawing and sculpture – created by “the most noteworthy Iranian artists of the 1950s to 1970s” compiled to “shed light on a period when Iranian artists were engaged with the world through the Tehran Biennial in Iran as well as exhibitions overseas, and when their work was collected by institutions inside and outside of Iran.”

The landmark loan exhibition, entitled Iran Modern and running from September 6, 2013 to January 5, 2013, “maps the genesis of Iranian modernism in order to argue that the development of modernist art is inherently more globally interconnected than previously understood” and “provides a dynamic perspective on Iran’s rich culture and history for the public.”

Meanwhile, a recent article in Art Radar Asia, an online magazine that tracks contemporary art trends, calls Iran “one of the most prolific and productive countries for contemporary art” in the Middle East and identifies eight innovative, influential and internationally-renowned Iranian artists of the past 35 years.

Included in Art Radar‘s list and accompanied by concise and illuminating blurbs about their work are photographer Abbas Kowsari, abstract calligrapher Golnaz Fathi, and painters Afshin Pirhashemi, Alireza Adambakan, and Babak Roshaninejad.

Here is an excerpt:

Reza Derakshani

Born in Sangsar in 1952, painter, musician and performance artist Reza Derakshani grew up in a tent in the countryside. His nomadic childhood inspires his art. He studied art in Tehran and Pasadena, California. In 1983, following the Islamic Revolution, he lived in exile in New York and Italy. He currently lives and works in Dubai and Austin, Texas.

Derakshani’s gallery, Kashya Hildebrand, had this to say about the artist and his method of working: “By investigating the essential nature of his cultural identity in a singularly original manner, he has connected to the spirit of the most exciting art made internationally today.”

Derakshani’s artwork is collected by high-profile figures such as Leon Black, Sting and Trudie Styler and the Royal family of Abu Dhabi. The British Museum has recently commissioned new works.

Reza_Derakshani_masters_of_persian

Masters of Persian, Reza Derakshani (2008). Mixed media on canvas.

Afshin Pirhashemi

Afshin Pirhashemi, born in 1974 in Urmia, where he lives now, is known for his black and white photo-realistic paintings of women.

His artistic talent was seen from childhood. As a teenager, he received a grant from the Italian Ambassador to study at the Rome Art Academy, and then received his BA at Azad University.

According to ArtTactic, the price range for his paintings is from USD 10,000- 50,000, and he is listed as having high market confidence. Pirhashemi won awards for his painting at the 2003 Tehran 6th International Art Biennial, and the 2004 Beijing Art Biennial Award.

Afshin_Pirhashemi_marriage

Marriage, Afshin Pirhashemi (2012). Oil on canvas.
(Ayyam Gallery)

Farhad Moshiri

According to Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Tehran-based Farhad Moshiri, who was born in Shiraz, Iran, in 1963 and educated at California Institute of the Arts, “overturns both pop culture and highbrow imagery by transforming it into figurative artwork.” His works are often hand-embroidered and sparkle with his use of glitter, sequins, and crystals. Even though his shimmery works look playful, he is addressing  ”the flaws of contemporary Iran all while toying with its traditional forms; he acknowledges the appeal of the western world in addition to its limitations.”

Farhad_Moshiri_God

God in Color, Farhad Moshiri (2012). Hand embroidery on canvas.
(Galerie Perrotin)

From high-priced auctions in Tehran to exhibitions in New York, Iranian artwork from the past six-plus decades – created in the midst of monarchy, modernization, foreign intervention and popular revolution – never ceases to reflect the complexity of Iranian culture, reinvent itself, attract attention and amaze the world.