Art And Culture

Supporting Art and Developing Science

People Desk
Supporting Art and Developing Science
Supporting Art and Developing Science

Stepping in the huge white gallery space, one is instantly captivated by the paintings and prints on the walls: a fusion of scientific elements, cells, and distorted organisms with oil colors, canvases and frames to express a feeling, elucidate a mood, or explicate an event.

It takes only seconds for the viewer to look away and notice the loud installation in the corner, a half-blood progeny of music and physics that chimes in every now and then with its exotic meditative sound and rhythm.

It is only then that it strikes one. How often does it happen for ‘art’ to actually coincide with ‘science’ to explain physical and psychological shifts in everyday life?

Although all disciplines are ultimately intertwined, art and science seem like polar opposites to those who practice neither. However, while one is powered by verified data, and the other by momentary sentiments, it is perfectly visible through the pieces around this gallery that artists and scientists tend to approach problems with the same open-mindedness and curiosity, not fearing the unknown, and preferring to take leaps rather than baby steps.

For the first time in Iran, the two seemingly distant fields have coalesced in a group exhibition at Aun Foundation’s newly opened venue ‘Aun Do’, taking visitors by surprise from the outset.

On the initiative of the foundation’s managing director Karan Vafadari, the event is sponsored and organized by Roche Pars, the Iranian branch of the Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche Holding AG. It is the company’s yet another effort to fuse two groundbreaking fields on the path to sustainable development.

The art exhibition titled ‘Creative Art, Innovative Science’ opened on Wednesday in the presence of Iranian and Swiss executives, honorary guests, including the head of the Joint Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce, and artists to display works of art that use scientific notions “in portraying life as we know it.”

“Roche has a long history of supporting the arts. It is dedicated to innovation since its foundation in 1896. We see a very close relation between innovation and creativity. One of the major owners of Roche in the past was a musical director and composer, so we have been sponsoring music for many years,” Peter Hug, head of the company’s Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa Region Pharma, told the Financial Tribune.

It is normally a logical step to support events such as this one in Iran since “we see the direct relation of creativity in medicines and arts,” he noted.

“We stepped into art sponsorship supporting the idea of science and art fusion. Roche does it at the highest edge of innovative science and artists do it at the highest edge of creativity; both merge in the unified body of human progress and development pushing societies into the future,” said Dr. Mehran Soleymani, Managing director of Roche Pars, in his opening speech.

As a major global pharmaceutical company pioneering in biotherapeutics R&D, Roche has managed to foster creativity in their business model as well as scientific research, and takes social responsibility very seriously.

  Corporate Responsibility

“It’s a way of giving back something to the society which we call corporate social responsibility, and we take it very seriously,” Hug stressed.

Curator Vafadari took stock of Iran’s thousand-year culture and lamented that modern-day society does not do enough to encourage employees to participate in charitable causes or cultural events.

Although many are participating in philanthropic activities, supporting arts and cultural programs has not been institutionalized in the Iranian community, he said.

“Our newly opened venue aims to do so. It has come on the radar of Iran’s Chambers of Commerce as well as various business entities. It was selected by Roche as the venue for the exhibition, and since we view innovation in science on parallel with creativity in arts, the cooperation is fortunate,” he said.

In the prologue of the exhibition brochure, Vafadari says that science and scientific ideas have long inspired the arts and artists, from Leonardo Da Vinci who famously implored his contemporaries to study the science of art and the art of science, to Picasso, Turner, and Kandinsky. Long before specialization and focused education became the norm, arts and sciences were integrated in the education system of most civilizations.

On whether the works to be displayed in a show sponsored by the company need to have scientific elements, Hug said the company does not necessarily ask artists to incorporate scientific elements, but it is an incentive.

“Many of the works here were created without a request by Roche,” he says believing that it is not a ‘Roche dedication’ to invest in art, but we help support all artists in one way or the other whether by investing in it or buying. “It is our private decision as Roche employees to support music, as well as visual arts.”

Hug also pointed to an annual music program, where artists are given a year to compose a piece that could have nothing to do with Roche or science. The selected pieces will then be presented in a music festival in Switzerland and later on in the concert venue ‘Carnegie Hall’ in New York, so that musicians are provided with a free platform for presentation.”

“The connection is not science, the connection is creativity,” Hug maintains. “It’s my second visit to Iran, I’m not very knowledgeable about the art scene here, but I’m looking forward to learning a lot. In the past two days since I arrived, I have seen arts and some nice creative pieces in restaurants and elsewhere in the city.”

The exhibition is open to the public everyday from 4-8 pm till November 13 at number 28, Seoul Avenue, Vanak, Tehran.