Art And Culture

Artworks Turn Capital Into Vast Gallery

Artworks Turn Capital Into Vast GalleryArtworks Turn Capital Into Vast Gallery

The city’s 1,500 billboards earmarked as a rule for commercial advertisements are being replaced with copies of famous artworks by both Iranian and western artists. More than 700 cultural artworks by Iranian artists will soon find space on the billboards. The project commenced on May 5, and is organized by the municipality’s Tehran Beautification Organization (TBO) to improve the appearance of parks and public spaces.

Earlier at a press conference Dr. Jamal Kamyab, CEO of TBO, said the capital will host over 500 Iranian artworks including paintings, calligraphy, carpet and epigraphy and the remaining would be copies of renowned international works of art. The display will run until May 16, he said. Mojtaba Musavi, a city councilor, and renowned sculptor Saeid Shahlapur, were present.

The idea of the project was raised and proposed by Shahlapur 10 years ago. The sculptor said implementing new ideas needs bold managers and thanked Kamyab for his support, Honaronline reported.

“As far as I know, no similar project as huge as this one has been implemented around the world,” he said, and hoped the event would be recorded in the history of the TBO and receive greater support.  Shahlapur, who graduated in sculpture at Art University and teaches in Fine Art University of Tehran, has also held several public and solo exhibitions mostly in the capital’s galleries.


Meanwhile, the New York Times quoted Mousavi as saying, “Our people are too busy to go to museums and galleries, so we decided to turn the entire city into a huge gallery.”

“Now rising above the streets of Tehran are images of Rembrandt paintings, photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Rothko Nos. 3, 10 and 13. Also included is a reproduction of Munch’s ‘The Scream,’” said the newspaper in an article.

The Iranian works, on the other hand, had been selected “with far more precaution.” In Mousavi’s words, “some of the more modern work could lead to objections that we wanted to avoid.”

The local response appears to be one of unanimous enthusiasm. A physics student said; “This really inspires me to go to a museum for the first time in my life, instead of again going out and smoking a water pipe.” Another, senior citizen of Tehran said he loved the idea, but added “the city shouldn’t forget the sidewalks need to be cleaned as well,” the article said.

  Strong Potential

Pointing to the need for encouraging people to take more interest in historical and cultural textures, Kamyab said: “We should remember our rich cultural heritage and persuade the public to value it, although unfortunately it seems that we have forgotten what we have.”

“The project has strong potentials to make people familiar with art and culture, so we are carrying it out,” Kamyab said. Improving public visual arts knowledge rests with the TBO and therefore efforts are being made to make the people familiar with artistic and cultural museums.

Negotiations were held with advertisement companies months ago to allocate a better part of their commercial ads space for the project. This is the first time such a huge cultural project is being implemented. “The relevant officials are eyeing public response to the project, and we are waiting for the feedback,” said Kamyab.

Over 70% of the displayed works are by well-known late Iranian artists and 30% are from famous foreign artworks.  Tandis, Herfeh-ye-Honarmand and Nazar publication houses cooperated with the TBO in the execution of  ‘A Gallery as Vast as a City’. Persian carpets, paintings inspired by the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) and works by painter Bahman Mohassess, fondly known as the “Persian Picasso,” are to be displayed.