Fereshteh Daftari Opens a Discussion on Modern Art from Iran

Cocurator's Members' Exhibition Opening Lecture

"Iran Modern" cocurator Fereshteh Daftari at Asia Society New York on Sept. 10, 2013. (Elsa Ruiz/Asia Society)

NEW YORK, September 10, 2013 — Fereshteh Daftari, cocurator of Iran Modern, presented a lecture as part of the exhibition's opening festivities that focused on the importance of a modernism created by Iranian artists, and challenged narrow definitions fabricated in the West for the West.

Daftari began by explaining that the exhibition is not meant to be a comprehensive survey, but instead was designed to present insight into the pioneering work of Iranian artists during the three decades preceding the 1979 revolution, particularly the sixties and seventies. The exhibition weaves thematic sections with more in-depth treatment of individual artists. Among the various forms of expression that may be perceived in this period, she discussed examples ranging from the culturally specific Saqqakhaneh movement and innovative abstractions to works with overt political content.

"If you look closely," Daftari explained, "you realize that the narratives and the languages in which the artists expressed their visions are so diverse that they resist being reduced to a single agenda." In discussing the Saqqakhaneh movement, she highlighted their source in proletarian visual culture and noted how its aesthetics expand the global discourse on the relation between fine art and popular culture.

She compared Charles Hossein Zenderoudi's K+L+32+H+4. Mon pere et moi (My Father and I), and Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans, both of which were created in 1962. While the connection may not be immediately obvious, she noted that both artists appropriated humble subjects from popular culture for their Pop Art compositions.

Daftari closed by emphasizing the importance of an exhibition like Iran Modern in providing an opportunity to appreciate the innovative and multifaceted nature of Iranian modern art which, she said, is "only one chapter of the story. Contemporary Iranian artists are writing the rest."

Reported by Gretta Nichols

Video: Watch the complete lecture (1 hr., 2 min.)

Related Links:
Iran Modern exhibition website
Photos: Iran Modern opening reception