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Book on Iran Art Unveiled in London

Book on Iran Art Unveiled in LondonBook on Iran Art Unveiled in London

The book ‘Honar’ (Persian equivalent for ‘art’), which reflects the trajectory of Iranian art from the 1950s till today, was unveiled on Friday in London.

Published by Phaidon, a global publisher with headquarters in London, it features 250 works of a wide range of styles from new media to sculpture and calligraphy, from the collection of Iranian art collector Mohammed Afkhami,  Honaronline reported.

It also includes a joint essay by the authors of the book Venetia Porter, assistant keeper (curator) of Islamic and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art at the British Museum in London, and Susan Babaie, lecturer in the arts of Iran and Islam at London’s Courtauld Institute of Art.

At the book launch ceremony, London-based Iranian visual artist Shirazeh Houshiary made a keynote speech, followed by a discussion between Afkhami and the authors.

The book delves into Afkhami’s family history, highlighting that his paternal great-grandmother, Effat al-Muluk Khwajeh Nouri, was the first female artist in Iran to set up a private painting school for girls. And his maternal grandfather, Mohammad Ali Massoudi, compiled one of the most significant private collections of calligraphy in Iran (some examples were exhibited in 1978 at the Reza Abbasi Museum in Tehran).

Born in Tehran, Afkhami, now in his 40s, divides his time between New York, Dubai and Switzerland. He began buying art works in 2004. His collection of around 400 mainly Iranian contemporary works includes artists Mohammad Ehsai, Reza Derakhshani, Shiva Ahmadi, Timo Nasseri, Ali Banisadr, Monir Farmanfarmaian and Parviz Tanavoli among others.

Afkhami is in talks for a touring show of 27 works (by 23 artists), drawn from his collection, currently on display at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada (until June 4), for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The exhibit, including videos, sculptures and photographs created since 1998, presents a side of Iran that is less seen by western audiences.

His ambition now is to see the collection housed permanently in a “public format” so that the world can see “a softer side of Iran (that is about) more than oil. If I can play a small part in that, I will be very happy,” Financial Times quoted him as saying.

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