his riveting survey, bringing together some 200 works, shed light on the last half century of Iranian art. Encompassing painting, sculpture, photography, documentary films, and even cartoons, the show was divided into three parts: Years of Modernization (1960–1978), Revolution and Iran-Iraq War (1979–1988), and Contemporary Perspectives (1989–2014).
The first section included stunning paintings by Bahman Mohassess evoking classic myths, and abstract canvases by Behdjat Sadr combining a fascination with movement with allusions to calligraphy. Particularly poignant was a gallery of photographs of prostitutes from Tehran’s red-light district, the Citadel of Shahr-e No, by Kaveh Golestan. The revolutionary period gave rise to some of the most disquieting works: Bahman Jalali’s photographs of combat around the city of Khorramshahr, a zone of conflict between Iran and Iraq, and Morteza Avini’s Haqiqat (Truth, 1980–81), which brings together interviews with Muslim soldiers, filmed in the trenches.
The exhibition closed with the late Chohreh Feyzdjou’s Products of Chohreh Feyzdjou (1988–1992), a storage room filled with jars, old crates, and rolled-up canvases labeled with the artist’s various addresses. It reprised the show’s themes of identity, otherness, and displacement while, at the same time, conveying mingled irony and despair.
A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 109.