Top Iranian artists line up in Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize at Royal College of Art

By Anne Field | 14 October 2009
A picture of Iranian families standing by trees

Exhibition: Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize, Royal College of Art, London, October 15-17 2009

As the London art world prepares for a busy month, two major exhibitions of Iranian art will display work from a thriving art scene.

The Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize is the first contemporary art prize for emerging Iranian artists. Selected from more than 120 nominees, six finalists are exhibiting at the Royal College of Art.

A picture of Iranian flags in galleries

Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakhar, Air Pollution of Iran 1 (2004-2006). Flags. © the artist

Farhad Ahrarnia, who works with textiles, photography and video, and Vahid Chamani, a painter who draws on the instability and anxiety of Iran’s current political climate, are among the competitors.

A picture of the front cover of a magazine showing a Muslim boy

Farhad Ahrarnia, The Struggle Within (2007-2008). Digital print on cotton aida, embroidery thread and needles. © the artist

There are two sculptors on the shortlist in the form of Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakhar and Sahand Hesamiyan, and a pair of photographers – Abbas Kowsari, whose images (top of page) have been published in more than ten leading Iranian newspapers, and Newsha Tavakolian, a self-taught snapper who has appeared in Time Magazine and the Figaro among others.

A picture of a painting of brown doll figures

Vahid Chamani, Amino Acids (2007). Oil on canvas. © the artist

The winner will be selected by a jury of leading figures from the Iranian and International art scenes, including Kamran Diba, YZ Kami, Shirin Neshat, Julia Peyton-Jones, Parviz Tanavoli and Chair Sheena Wagstaff.

A picture of a spiky circular sculpture

Sahand Hesamiyan, Eastern Sun (2008). Steel, Aluminium. © the artist

Following an auction of the finalists’ works by Jussi Pylkkänen, President of Christie’s Europe and Middle East, the winner will be announced on Saturday the 17th October 2009. The winner of MOP CAP will also be awarded a solo exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in 2010.

A picture of a woman in Muslim dress carrying a framed picture of a young man

Newsha Tavakolian, Mothers of Martyrs (2007). Digital photography. © the artist

To coincide with the Finalists’ Exhibition, Magic of Persia will also present Facts and Illusions, an exhibition of video work by 14 Iranian artists, in the RCA’s Henry Moore Gallery.

Curated by Dr Sami Azar, former director of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, the show is the first time contemporary Iranian video artists have been shown on such a scale in London.

Established names such as Farideh Lashai and Avish Khebrezadeh, will figure alongside younger video artists, providing a snapshot of the diversity of current Iranian video art.

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