Soheil Mokhtar (Iran, born 1988) Untitled. Estimate £450-550
Soheil Mokhtar (Iran, born 1988) Untitled. Estimate £450-550

Fereydoun Ave Shines a Light on Invisible Generation of Iranian Artists at Bonhams

In the mid-20th century Iran became home to a thriving contemporary art scene, with Tehran being West Asia’s most active visual cultural centre. At the forefront of this was Fereydoun Ave (born 1945) – artist, designer, collector and art patron, Ave has devoted the last four decades to celebrating Iranian artists. Since the revolution in 1979 international sanctions on the country have made it difficult for Iranians to travel abroad and for westerners to access Iran. This has rendered a generation of artists underexposed, and invisible from the western art world’s gaze. Bonham’s New Day New Wave: Curated by Fereydoun Ave seeks to change that with works of 31 Iranian artists previously unseen on the market. The sale is online and runs from 18 February to 9 March.  Estimates range from £250-£2,000.

Top left: Soheil Mokhtar (Iran, born 1988) Untitled. Estimate £450-550. Bottom Left: Kaveh Najmadbadi (Iran, born 1960) Untitled. Estimate £400-500. Right: Shaseddin Ghazi (Iran, born 1983) Untitled. Estimate £350-500.
Top left: Soheil Mokhtar (Iran, born 1988) Untitled. Estimate £450-550. Bottom Left: Kaveh Najmadbadi (Iran, born 1960) Untitled. Estimate £400-500. Right: Shaseddin Ghazi (Iran, born 1983) Untitled. Estimate £350-500.

Bonhams’ Director of Middle Eastern, Islamic and South Asian Art. Nima Sagharchi said: “The Iranian New Year or “Norouz”, falling on the advent of spring, literally translates as “new day”. Commemorating this, Fereydoun Ave’s “New Day, New Wave” is the first in a program of ground-breaking curated sales showcasing the breadth of talent amongst Iran’s underexposed and emerging contemporary artists.  

As an auction house we predominantly handle works by artists who have become established either through recognition by museums and institutions or by strong support from international galleries. Artists living and working in Iran today do not necessarily have access to these outlets, so to be given the opportunity to shine a light on their exciting output, through the curatorial lens of an acclaimed Iranian artist, patron, and curator, is a tantalizing prospect.”

The 1950s – 1970s brought about a golden period for the arts in Iran. These decades saw the launch of Iran onto the international art scene with five Tehran Biennials (1958-66) taking place, as well as the openings of many galleries, and the arrival of foreign collectors. One of the most famous festivals was The Shiraz Arts Festival at Persepolis in 1967, of which Fereydoun Ave was an advisor. The festival was largely backed by the government and hosted a roster of international musicians, artists and dancers for the next eleven years, representing Iran’s vibrant art scene to the world. This festival paved the way for the opening of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in 1977, which held the works of many important Western and Iranian artists.

Curator of the sale Fereydoun Ave said: “Whilst Iranian artists today sadly do not enjoy the same freedom of travel or access to a wider international audience that their predecessors had in the 1960s and 70s, the internet and online auction platforms like Bonhams have opened up their work to a global audience. 

With a diversity in scope, from drawing, printmaking, and graphic design to more tactile media, artists in Iran are creating novel output that is neither derivative of their Western counterparts nor confined by the Neo-Traditionalist trends in Iranian Modernism. The artists in the present auction are some of the unsung heroes of the Iranian cultural community, engrossed in their creative endeavours rather than the pursuit of fame and recognition”. 

Since opening Tehran’s first alternative art space -13 Vanak Street – in 1984, Fereydoun Ave has continued to inspire and mentor the current wave of Iranian artists, serving as the chief nominator for the British-Iranian charity Magic of Persia’s Contemporary Art prize 2009. Prior to the revolution, Ave worked as a stage and graphic designer at the Iran American Society in Tehran and was resident designer at the National Theatre in Tehran. He shared a studio in the Seychelles with acclaimed American painter and sculptor Cy Twombly (1928-2011) during the 1990s, citing his mentorship as one of his greatest influences as an artist. The influence is evident in Ave’s work which often features liberally applied paint that drips across the composition. Ave has works represented in various collections around the world including the Contemporary Art Museum, Tehran; The Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and Lloyds Bank, Geneva.

Sale: New Day New Wave: Curated by Fereydoun Ave
Location: Online
Date: 18 February- 9 March

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