The present prosperity of Iranian sculpture is the outcome of individual endeavors. This is how it reclaimed legitimacy and stepped into a creative path, after centuries of being neglected, proscribed, or officially banned.
The first generation of Iranian sculptors in a modern sense, Abul-Hassan Sedighi (1894-1995) and Ali Akbar San’ati (1916-2006), were the first artists to introduce Western canons of classical sculpture. In 1943, the foundation of Tehran Academy of Fine Arts marked the onset of Modernist art. Among first graduates was Parviz Tanavoli whose achievements towards a synthesis of Iranian traditional iconography and western Modernist means, is a landmark in the history if Iranian modern art. The Academy made way for novel experiences, and a new set of artists with original points of view flourished and soon stepped into the international scene. The 1960s and 1970s Iran was witness of an affluent, colorful art scene with regular biennials, active writing and a futurist ambiance. In 1979, the outbreak of the Islamic revolution and the 8-year war put an end to the whole innovative enthusiastic enterprises of modernist generation.
Sculpture had hard time getting back its legitimacy after Revolution. Once again it was subject to prohibition and its practitioners were driven into an unsought exile. It took ears of effort to take it back to the art universities, where it slowly felt a new blood, and the different generations of sculptors gradually rejoined. Older generation of sculptors began to train pupils and general attraction to public art improved The Biennials, along with other major events gradually reappeared and galleried and collectors were attracted to sculpture. In this way, in the past two decades, sculpture slowly regained its place and an artistic society of sculptors was reconstructed.The new generation came with a will to subvert the older definitions of sculpture practice, paving way to a creative current in harmony with pace of Iranian contemporary art scene. Adoption of new, unconventional materials liberated sculpture from its traditional definition and expanded it through the space. Socio-political concerns or autobiographical narratives appeared, and embracing new media identified sculpture with deconstructive, alterative current of contemporary art. The tendency of artists from different disciplines to embark on installations and other three dimensional modes of artistic presentation made a circumstance of plurality and competition, leading to a broader definition of “multimedia artist” also including sculptors Today, new artistic forms seem to be established both in terms of production and in the eyes of viewers.
The new practices, despite their experimental nature, promise a productive new wave, distinguished by the diversity of attitudes and materials, deconstructive nature and the wide range of practitioners. In the absence of a coherent historical backdrop and brevity of practical experience the actual procedure of “thing making” still seemed to be a major challenge for your Iranian sculptors. This is how many of the experimentations reveal evident formal concerns, targeting monumental, skillful accomplishment and capturing viewer’s consciousness through powerful abstract as well as figurative works. Some other artists dealt with possible means of expanding forms into the space, reaching for installations and broader definitions of sculpture. Relying on traditional Persian motifs and patterns is another noticeable current, which seeks to make a bridge to historical artistic heritage.Many other artist, on the other hand, left formal concerns for conceptual consideration. In the diverse works of this newly emerged generation, fantasy, metaphor, and poetry go hand in hand with sharp political comments, and compelling structural studies are seen alongside purely conceptual language-based works.
The current exhibition in the residency of Belgium ambassador in Iran is part of a cultural exchange program between tow countries. It has been made possible thanks to the benevolence of Mme & M. Francois del Marmol, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium in Iran; Ms. Elahe Javaheri of Elahe Art Gallery, Tehran; Mr. Mohammad Hossein Emad, sculptor and curator of the exhibition; Tehran; Ms. Fery Malek-Madani of Art Cantara association in Belgium; Ms. Sanaz Dezfoulian of Elahe Gallery and Ms. Maryam Ghoreyshi of Mah-e-Mehr Institute, Tehran. It is the promising picture of artists who have gone beyond evanescent restrictions and seek for broader horizons of creation and dialogue.