'Guns and Roses'
Eleven Howland is pleased to present ‘Guns and Roses’, a group exhibition of Iranian contemporary art displaying the works of twelve of the country’s most prominent artists, many of whom are living and working in Iran, at the forefront of one of the most vibrant artistic communities in the Middle East today.
On the thirtieth anniversary of the Iranian revolution, we pause to reflect on the crucial themes that have underpinned Iran’s contemporary visual culture. Guns and Roses loom large - two dominant cultural pillars that have shaped and informed Iran’s artistic landscape. A symbol of conflict and creativity, violence and ideology, the Gun embodies the spirit of militarism rife in a region scarred by a decade that saw bloody revolution followed by a ferocious war with Iraq. Alongside this is the subject of the famous Sufi poet Sa’adi’s “Golestan” - the delicate Rose, whose sublime beauty forever inspires wisdom and grace within Iranian culture.
These themes are earnestly reflected in the works on show. Artists such as Khosrow Hassanzadeh pay tribute to heroic wrestlers, or “Pahlavans”, whilst simultaneously playing with the Iranian consumerist demand for sentimentalist souvenirs. Reza Derakhshani and Pooya Aryanpour reflect the past prominence of floral and calligraphic traditions within contemporary Iranian painting, traditions greatly esteemed for their unmatched lyricism and elegance. In contrast to this, the works of Farhad Ahrarnia and Farhad Moshiri address their country’s frequently conflicted relationship to the rest of the world.
Caught between the grace of Iranian visual culture and the disturbances of conflict are the Iranian people themselves, and their plight is retold with great flare and visual power by figurative artists such as Samira Alikhanzadeh and Afshin Pirhashemi. Pirhashemi in particular captures the duality of Iranian society, set in stark black and white hues; his subject stands in defiance of social expectations, a lone woman with her mane of hair flowing behind in the style of western fashion publications.
The selection at hand therefore aims to earnestly reflect the ideas and social currents at play in what is perhaps one of the most dynamic visual cultures currently emerging in the international art scene.
'Guns and Roses' will feature works from Shahriar Ahmadi, Farhad Ahrarnia, Samira Alikanzadeh, Pooya Aryanpour, Alireza Dayani, Reza Derakshani, Golnaz Fathi, Khosrow Hassanzadeh, Reza Lavassani, Farhad Moshiri, Afshin Pirhashemi and Ghass Rouzkhosh.
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