Javad Azimi, Untitled, 2012, acrylic on cardboard, 35 x 50 cm.

A Network of Iranian Artists Explores 'What Lies Beneath'

Shahrzad Chavangalaee, Staying, 2012, black and white photograph, 34x46 cm.

Pouya Parsamagham, Chase (detail), 2012, , still, Eight-channel video, colour, variable duration looping, installation of variable dimensions.

Farrokh Mahdavi, Untitled, 2012, mixed media on canvas, 90 x 110cm.

Iman Raad, Be Away From Demon's Eye – Your Heart be the Home of Happiness, 2012, embroidery, 120 x 85 cm.


Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
Al Quoz 1, street 8, Al Serkal Avenue # 17
+ 97 1 (0)4 323 5052
What Lies Beneath | Second Edition
September 10-October 11 2012

What Lies Beneath, a group show of work by young Iranian artists, reflects the gallery’s ongoing commitment to nurture emerging talent, the sequel of What Lies Beneath reveals the development of some of the most exciting Iranian artists today. As well as featuring the work of four of last year’s artists, the second edition welcomes two new talents.

The artists included in What Lies Beneath, editions one and two, have been selected by the widely acclaimed and influential IVDE artist Rokni Haerizadeh. Haerizadeh’s extensive network in Iran, maintained committedly despite his exile, has allowed him to support and mentor emerging talents from his homeland, encouraging them to delve to the depths of their ideas confidently. Haerizadeh comments on how his fellow artists and he "are interested in explorations into the nature and condition of man; in dealing with different facets of man — sometimes the political man, sometimes the nostalgic, the desires or memories of man, the body itself." The paintings, video works, embroidery, photography and installation exhibited in What Lies Beneath all acknowledge shared influences, interests and cultural heritage while manifesting individual preoccupations and expressions, wide-ranging and unclassifiable beneath one umbrella theme or concept.

Javad Azimi, whose works feature in What Lies Beneath for the first time, creates vivid paintings reflecting an accumulation of Persian tradition through nostalgic insights. The subjects, compositions, and atmospheres in his works vary, and yet they are consistently inspired by traditional decorations of architecture, objects, carpets and other functional objects. Animals, mythical beasts, geometric forms, and folkloric characters appear and re-appear, mingling into undefined sequences.

Shahrzad Changalvaee, exhibiting at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde for the first time, presents a series of black and white photographs entitled Mountains of Alas and Regret. Coming from a graphic design background, Changalvaee’s work plays with Farsi words by situating them in unusual, human settings that redefine modes of expression. In this latest body of work, she creates mountainscapes from words that resonate with emotion: The mountainscapes and the choice of words together create an overwhelming sense of nostalgia that seizes the viewer. We recall the countless ‘mountains’ that we know we have not climbed, and gaze at defeated. Yet, her work offers us a sense of relief, rather than defeat, an acceptance that there are impossibilities, and that eventual nostalgia shrouds desires and sorrows, as in Changalvaee’s photographs.

Tehran-based painter Farrokh Mahdavi traces social issues and changes through the depiction of his individual definition and interpretation of humankind. He seeks to materialize everyday issues and questions of living through the human body, through raw flesh. Portraits of tender-skinned figures and fleshy textured hearts are simultaneously glorious, weak and suffering. Human bodies are converted to appear like the material of the organs they conceal within.

Pouya Parsamagham presents a group of light boxes of different sizes, each displaying film clips of moving figures, captured on the artist’s phone. Chasing the characters with his camera, keeping the future of each running figure ominous, incomplete, intriguing, Parsamagham creates a dramatic and mysterious narrative. The fates of the characters, gathered from different fictional events and moments in time, are intertwined into this ongoing chase. Parsamagham’s work is developing in a time when technology is facilitating the constant monitoring and tracking of individuals. Parsamagham creates a world of mystery that beguiles the viewer and yet resonates with the relentless endeavors of powers for the control and supervision of people.

In the second edition of What Lies Beneath, Iman Raad brings together acerbic social critique with elements redolent of traditional Iranian folk tapestry in a collection of new works that show continuity with his wide-ranging sources of inspiration and influence, and yet markedly develop new complexity and expression. He continues to elusively reconcile the modern and the traditional in such a way that reflects the bulldozing of valued folk traditions — sorrowful tales and joyful promises that ring true with modern political rhetoric and reality emerge through mockery and admiration of both the past and the present.

Arafeh Riahi embroiders flowers on photographs printed on cloth, accompanies them with dry definitions of the flowers’ symbolisms, and finally presents them in the form of everday tables. Juxtaposing these seemingly disparate elements, Riahi is able to raise questions about the issues and status of women, encouraging the viewer to reconsider standard perspectives through her profoundly sensitive, feminine and at times humourous creations.

In all the work on display in What Lies Beneath, the artists powerfully accentuate the role of art in conflicted societies, while reflecting the purity of individual expression through a multitude of techniques. Nostalgia, the realities of contemporary society framed by political powers, the dichotomy of traditions, and profound personal reflection tie all the artists in this exhibition together. In this collection, we are exposed to the most driven emerging artists in Iran, whose traditions and contemporary culture mould, challenge and propel their lives and works.

Javad Azimi, Untitled, 2012, acrylic on cardboard, 35 x 50 cm.

Arafeh Riahi, Saffron, from The Private Life of Flowers series, 2012, embroidered cloth, writing on paper and table, 37 x 62 cm.