“Don’t look directly”
In Iran, landscaping does not have a specific and widespread place as it does in the western art history. Even in Iranian miniature, despite all its references to nature, we have always witnessed an indirect encounter with nature, and in only limited examples we see the reference to the nature is as the main subject and ultimate purpose.
Hence, a dearth of academic and systematic study on nature and on the other hand, the impossibility to critique nature is observed in our history of art constantly and clearly.
Over the past few years, we have seen some efforts are made to study nature and although they have been worthwhile, they remained inconclusive and superficial. Consequently, some prominent figures like late Arabali Sharveh were so isolated and could not make their voice heard among the popular modernists of that time, and this was a very regrettable happening. On the other hand, the fundamental and undeniable flaws exposed in the transition of Iranian art and artists to modernism could be considered as one of the major reasons for the apparent lack of study on nature.
We have seen a few artists whose concerns were nature in recent years, and among them Mehdi Farhadian can be mentioned specifically. However, by the development of modernization and undeniable changes in sociology, surprisingly, we are witnessing a growing interest in nature among Iranian young artists in recent years; the artists who were born and grew up in polluted metropolitan cities. When we visit their studios, we see many artists who draw mountains! As if the only observable sign of nature in the polluted air is mountains. As if in this city, those mountains are the only sign of liberty. We know many young artists who paint nature in their studios, but only in their mind! As if the nostalgia for the existing reality in nature does not let go of them. These artists were not familiarized with nature neither in universities or institutes nor through their professors’ artworks and the art history of their country. Most of them did not even have the opportunity to see Turner’s artworks closely. All they have seen and known is through studying western art history. Moreover, the situation of their city is completely clear; the city in which the citizens are constantly dictated not to look directly.
Hence, this exhibition is the beginning of a movement to study lack and excess which we mentioned briefly. Although it is not a big exhibition and many works are absent, we believe it is a reason to start looking at the issue of nature in Iranian contemporary art, and we hope to study this issue more comprehensively in the future exhibitions.