[Gallery Talk] Contemporary Art in Iran: Dr. Michael Brand in conversation with Mehdi Ghadyanloo, Farrokh Mahdavi and Asal Peirovi

10 Aug 2021

This talk was held in conjunction with our ongoing exhibition Seemingly Playful, a group exhibition featuring four Iranian artists that have never previously exhibited in Australia: Mehdi Ghadyanloo, Farrokh Mahdavi, Asal Peirovi and Hoda Zarbaf. With vastly different backgrounds and approaches, these four leading artists are united in their use of unconventional spatial composition, allegorical subject matter, domestic settings, and vibrant bursts of colour. Through the exaggeration of small, quotidian details, personal truths are revealed that transcend cultural and geographic barriers. 

Tune in to hear more about the exhibition, the featured works and the artists’ respective endeavours.

Seemingly Playful is ongoing throughout the month of August and is presented in collaboration with Dastan Gallery.

About the Speakers

Dr. Michael Brand serves as the ninth director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia. He is an international art scholar and cultural leader whose work spans art museums and academia as well as the government, philanthropic and community sectors. Prior to joining the Gallery in 2012, Dr. Brand was consulting director of the new Aga Khan Museum in Toronto while it was under construction. Before this, he was director of the world-renowned J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles from 2005 to 2010.

Mehdi Ghadyanloo is considered one of Iran’s leading artists known for his paintings with surreal and minimalistic themes that open a window into contemporary life in Iran. Growing up near the agricultural fields in the suburbs of Tehran, Ghadyanloo studied at Tehran University’s College of Fine Arts and graduated with a BA in 2005. He earned an MA in film studies from Tehran’s Teachers College (Tarbiyat-e Modarres). In 2016 he became the first Iranian artist to be commissioned in both Iran and the US since the revolution in 1979, when he completed a large mural for the Rose Kennedy Greenway project, Boston, USA.

Farrokh Mahdavi is amongst the most prolific painters of his generation in Iran, with his works easily distinguished through the use of unique pinkish hues and technique that features such as the eyes or the lips, and the rest are covered by thick layers of pink paint, accurately expressing the emotions of his characters.  Mahdavi’s work has been shown in Iran and abroad in major exhibitions including City Prince/sses at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France (2019) and the Iranian Pavilion in Venice Biennale, Italy (2015).

Asal Peirovi’s paintings employ a wide variety of techniques and explore themes of memory, travel, scenography, and geometry. Her “Curtains” series are a combination of study and improvisation in which the artist’s creation of visual texture on fabric resembles the unpredictable behaviour of nature —an opportunity she uses as a context to add different layers of architectural elements standing in opposition to nature’s unpredictability. Peirovi is a graduate of Painting from Shahed University (BA, 2009) and Tehran Art University (MA, 2014).