Art And Culture

Belgian Artist Will Take Entire Space in TMOCA

Belgian Artist Will Take Entire Space in TMOCABelgian Artist Will Take Entire Space in TMOCA

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMOCA) will devote its entire space to a display of works by the Belgian artist and conceptual provocateur Wim Delvoye in March.

Known for his inventive and often shocking projects, Delvoye, 50, has spent much time in Iran during the past three years and is restoring a former palace and school there, which he might open as a gallery, reported.

The show is a measure of the growing cultural ties between Iran and the West, but is surprising nonetheless.

He is full of praise for staff at the museum. “They are very professional; they are easier to work with than the Louvre,” Delvoye said, referring to an exhibition of his work at the Parisian institution in 2012.

The TMOCA hosted a retrospective of the late German artist Otto Piene in February and a show of work by the German sculptor and installation artist Gunther Uecker in 2012, but Delvoye’s exhibition will be the first time that the institution will devote its entire space, including nine galleries and the gardens, to a non-Iranian artist.

The show will feel like a retrospective, Delvoye says, but it will also include new metalwork pieces made by Iranian artisans in the city of Isfahan. These include a series of aluminum Rimowa-brand suitcases, embossed with traditional designs by craftsmen who more typically work in silver or brass, as well as the frame of a Maserati sports car decorated in a similar style. Other pieces, such as car-tire sculptures and Delftware gas cylinders, reflect the artist’s stand against brand-name culture.

Delvoye has bought a former palace and school in the city of Kashan, which he has been carefully restoring for possible use as a gallery. He has also collected works by Iranian artists.

He was first offered a show in Tehran informally around three years ago, but decided to take up the offer more recently. He praises the contemporary art scene in Iran, noting that there are over 50 galleries showing work in Tehran, including works of many female artists. “Iran is not what people think it is. It is ridiculous to depict it as an evil country,” he said.

 Off Track

Delvoye says he likes to seek out places to show his work that are off the beaten track, but he always shows respect for local culture. He says that if he was a young artist, he would choose Tehran as a place to have a studio.

The Tehran exhibition, which is due to open on March 7, 2016 and run for three months, has been brought together by Vida Zaim and Leila Varasteh; the two women have organized solo and group shows and auctions of Iranian work in Paris, New York, Dubai, London and Tehran.

Majid Molla-Norouzi, director-general of the visual arts office at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic guidance, said that the exhibition is being staged “in the interest of international co-operation in art”. He added that the institution’s Iranian audience will find attractive the traditional Isfahan designs etched on to some of Delvoye’s works.

A deal between Iran and the State Museums of Berlin and the Prussian Cultural Foundation was announced in October. Under the terms of the agreement, the Tehran museum will send a selection of works from its great collection of 20th-century western art as well as pieces by Iranian artists to Berlin for a show in 2016.

A tour including paintings by Gauguin, Picasso and Rothko could travel beyond Berlin, possibly to the US and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC.