Art And Culture

Tanavoli and Prodigies Showing 4 Decades of Art

Sara Razmi’s neon light creation of ‘Gol o Morgh’ (L), Parviz Tanavoli and one of his Heech sculpturesSara Razmi’s neon light creation of ‘Gol o Morgh’ (L), Parviz Tanavoli and one of his Heech sculptures

Accomplished painter, sculptor and art scholar Parviz Tanavoli is showing his illustrious “Heech” sculptures. Forty of his art students are also showing their works alongside in an exhibition at Tehran Book Garden.  

The exhibit “Heech and All” showcases a selection of conceptual sculptures and minimalist artificial jewelry made of bronze, silver, wood, fiberglass, steel and even water pipes.

One of the pioneers who introduced modernism to Iranian art, Tanavoli teaches at the university and at art institutions.

Following their master, his students have also broken the usual clichés with their minimalist artworks. Minimalism is a style of art developed during the 1960’s, that uses simple shapes and colors.

Sculptor Sara Razmi is one of his students whose progressive neon light creations of ‘Gol o Morgh’ (flower and bird, a common motif in traditional Persian painting) is on display.

Similar to most of Tanavoli’s art pupils over decades, Razmi is a professional sculptor, and practices her own personal minimalist approach.

In a talk with the Financial Tribune, the 35-year-old artist said: “Tradition can be a double edged sword. It can inspire, but if it remains like a cliché, it can become a heavy burden. I like to have a new look at our traditional forms of art and update them. My designs of bird and flower are indeed a product of a modern approach to old concepts”.

Tanavoli, who resides in Tehran and Vancouver, welcomes innovation from his students.

While he was in Canada, Razmi sent him the sketches of her works via email for evaluation. “He saw my work and suggested that I take a closer look at his neon collections in Tehran. His daughter showed me his works, which helped me a lot in completing my sculptures,” Razmi told the Tribune, adding that Tanavoli is always helpful and kind with all his students.

Learning from and working with the eminent sculptor for eight years, she says “Tanavoli is a living encyclopedia of art”.

  The Heeches

Tanavoli is better known globally for his Heech sculptures. The word Heech means ‘nothing’ in Persian. The veteran artist has been creating sculptures of different forms and sizes of the nothing word since the 1960’s. Some of his Heech sculptures have been auctioned at the Christie’s and Sotheby’s, while others are displayed at Tate Modern, British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

At the ongoing exhibition there are recent creations of the same word. Made in diverse shapes, sizes and materials, some Heeches sit on chairs, some emerge out of cages while others stand together like lovers.

The term Heech has long been used in mysticism and classical Persian literature. It refers to the philosophy that God created everything out of nothing, so nothingness exists in everything in the world.

Tanavoli, 81, is one the founders of the Saqqakhaneh Movement, the equivalent of modernism in Iranian art.

  Window to Art World

Painter Mahrooz Beladi, who had a dream of turning her paintings and ideas into three dimensional works, joined Tanavoli’s workshops seven years ago.

“I always loved the story of Gulliver’s Travels and the concept of contrast between small and big scale figures. I benefit from the concept in my paintings, sculptures and jewelry,” she told the Tribune.

Her works of artificial jewelry (bronze and silver necklaces, earrings, rings and pins) includes two collections of “Gulliver World,” small human figures, birds, ants and fish, as well as nostalgic small iconic items like cassettes, popsicles and biscuits, all from the 1970s and 80s.

She said she is honored to be part of the show and believes that Tanavoli’s workshops are like a window to the art world.

One of Tanavoli’s first and best pupils is the conceptual sculptor, puppet maker and theater instructor Bijan Nemati-Sharif (1947-2012). An untitled work by the late artist is seen at the exhibit.

Brothers Ali and Amir Mousavizadeh, who worked and studied with Tanavoli for over a decade, are showing an empowering collection of “Straw Identity” on the issue of power of oil and its influence on people’s lives and modern society.

Visual artist Mona Paad, Tanavoli’s student and assistant, and sculptor Farish Alborzkouh are among the participants.

The show will run until August 3. The exhibition is located at the underground premises of Tehran Book Garden, next to Iran National Library off Haqqani Highway.

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