Iranian Modern Sculpture is a newly established art, generally less than a century old, whose original examples were exclusively commissioned, which typically had a naturalist style. This brief history in the past few decades has had its own ups and downs and has been subjected to prohibition and neglect.
With the addition of sculpture into the universities’ curricula, and the engagement of previous generation of sculptors into the higher educational institutions, sculpture has re-emerged as a field of arts. In addition, the emergence of a younger generation of sculptors has gradually altered the clichéd, narrow and mostly commissioned artistic path, leading it into a more creative field of Iranian contemporary art.
It seems that the lack of a historical background and tangible examples, scarcity of resources, and the brevity of practical experiences devoid of role models contributed to the efforts of the younger generation to make sculpture an artistic reality, a reality that transforms and expands their conceptual, formal and intellectual concerns into a three dimensional space. As the goal of experimentation is “making things,” concepts alone, are not sufficient, and certain levels of industry and craftsmanship are therefore required. Hence the new generation invests simultaneously both in concepts as well as in the discovery of the practical means, and as the technical tools and methods are learned through trial and error, the field of sculpture faces delays in growth and maturity.
On the other hand, freedom from the heavy bonds of tradition, has freed the young Iranian sculptor from many obligations, allowing the artist to freely decide about solutions to a multitude of creative currents as well as many fresh and innovative ideas. Even though the experimental nature is still quite evident in the works of sculpture, the diversity in concepts, materials and media, the abundance of practitioners, as well as the deconstructive nature of their works, promise a productive new artistic wave and a distinguished place for sculpture in the Iranian contemporary arts. Many sculptors are still experimenting with the expansion of the forms into space, paving the way for further serious artistic achievements. Many others search for traditional motifs, or for familiar patterns of Persian calligraphy, architecture or design, linking to the past artistic heritage. Some others have surpassed the formal concerns, expressing socio-political statements or displaying levels of self-disclosure, especially by incorporating their typically used everyday objects. A number of the sculptors have used text and language as a means of artistic expression, and yet others have gone further into interpretable combinations of text and objects. Even though the sculptors have grown on a barren and inhospitable land, they may be Baobab seeds remarkably growing, transforming, and most likely breaking open their restrictive grounds. Helia Darabi July 2009