Contemporary Iranian Art

“Herfeh: Honarmand” was first published as a quarterly in Tehran in 2002, meaning about 60 years after the arrival of modern art in Iran. Like many other non-western cultures, Iranian visual culture experienced a trend of confusion and change upon encountering western modernism. But the situation was more complicated for Iranian artists. They already possessed a rich and ancient visual heritage dating back to several thousands of years ago and the approaches they considered in facing Western art were to maintain this heritage, restructure it, put it aside, or create forms of fusion. The two main approaches taken by modernist Iranian artists were to create modern art that was free of identity-based bonds, on the one hand, and create a style of modernism that sought to remain Iranian, on the other.

However, at the time of the publication of the first issue, we could see that Iranian art was being exposed to western winds here and there, with every new trend hindered by the arrival of a new Western style or method. Therefore, it was apparently time for a critical review of the foundations of Iranian art. We did not accept exotic readings of Iranian art, nor did we place ourselves in a confrontational position with regard to the West, as was the case with Edward Said.

In different issues of the magazine, we analyzed the fundamental concepts of Western art, such as modernism, postmodernism, and contemporary art, translating important articles by authors such as Charles Baudelaire, Clement Greenberg, Linda Nochlin, Rosalind E. Krauss, Arthur Danto, and John Berger into Farsi. By knowing the philosophical foundations of Western art, we sought to avoid blind imitations of Western artistic trends.

In a special issue entitled “From Another Perspective”, we critiqued the influence of western views on Iranian art. In our issue on “Chinese Art”, we tried to examine the contemporary art of an oriental nation with a non-western perspective.

We prepared and published a special issue entitled “Art and Time” with the idea that every human civilization has considered “time” in a different way in order to understand its place in the world, and that our understanding of the consciousness of each people and nation depends on how we comprehend the meaning of fundamental concepts such as “time”. In this sense, ancient Iranian art provides a different definition of the concept of “collective time” for us Iranians compared to that determined by Western civilization.

In the special issue “Ten Selected Artists of Iranian Art”, we conducted a survey among those active in Iranian visual arts to introduce ten of the most prominent Iranian artists. And in another special issue entitled “An Imaginary Exhibition”, we sought to make our own list of the most important artists and find the most profound and recurring themes of modern art and write about them.

We aimed to rethink ourselves; to review the path taken and defend an art that is deep, multi-layered, and concrete. In introducing Iranian artists, our concern was neither to approve the western perspective, nor to express opposition to it. We looked to critique representations of banal stereotypes of “Eastern” or “Middle Eastern” artists, while scrutinizing the domination of the market over the realm of art. We were intrigued by art that is not submissive and not reliant on popular ideas, one that is not snobby; and above all, art that comes in the form of rich imagery, not words! And this mindset influenced the selection of artists we introduced to Iranian students of art, artists such as Lucian Freud, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Euan Uglow, Vija Celmins, Anselm Kiefer, Walker Evans, Sally Mann, Martin Parr, William Eggleston, and Eva Barrett.

With regard to theoretical studies, we strived to reread the history of contemporary and ancient Iranian art from an internal and critical perspective and thus provide the fundamental material necessary for writing the history of Iranian art.

We wrote articles and critiques about hundreds of contemporary Iranian artists.

And we translated many articles related to the needs of Iran’s artistic community.

Our audience was the artistic community inside Iran. All articles were published in Farsi. However, if a Western researcher, critic, or curator seeks to follow Iranian art, old or new, not through clichéd approaches with external and superficial readings influenced by news and politics, but rather with the intention of knowing Iranian art through an Iranian lens, they will find a lot of content and ideas among our articles; though they’ll have to go through the difficult process of translation from Farsi to English. Here you can find some examples of articles written by Herfeh: Honarmand collaborators with regard to Iranian contemporary art.

سبد خرید۰ محصول