An excerp from
an article by
May 14, 1999
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An Excerp ...
Journey between cultures
Artists inspired by life in Iran and America
By Maryam Ovissi
May 14, 1999
Many Iranian artists in the United States have become integrated into the contemporary art world. One of the most well-known is Shirin Neshat, who has presented her Iranianess with a language that has gained wide respect and appreciation.
In this article, I will present five other well-known and upcoming contemporary Iranian artists in the United States. Of course, there are numerous others that could be mentioned, but Seyed Alavi, Hadi Tabatabai, Afarin Rahmanifar, Aylene Fallah and Maryam Javaheri will provide a glimpse as to the range of art and styles being created.
Art categorized according to a specific cultural affiliation be judged within cultural paradigms or what the culture connotes. The primary goal of this article is not to present what is similar among the five Iranian artists, but to reflect the diversity of their work and various forms of inspiration these artists find in life and Iranian culture.
Since 1996 I have founded and organized an annual Iranian exhibition, Evolving Perceptions, sponsored by the Iranian American Cultural Association and Evolving Perceptions, Inc. in Washington DC. I am continuously impressed by the number of submissions and range of work being created by Iranian artists in the United States.
Many of the artists are inspired through their cultural heritage, while others create because of their sheer desire to make art. The followings based on personal interviews with each of the artists.
Maryam Javaheri, New York
Maryam Javaheri has had the longest artistic career of the five artists presented. She received her fine arts degree from Tehran University and continued her advanced education at New York University and the Art Students League of New York in the early 1960's. Her impressive list of private tutorledges includes important American artists such as Ad Reinhardt, Adolf Gottlieb and Will Barnett. Today, some of the artists she admires are Jackson Pollock, DeKooning and Helen Frankenthaler.
Javaheri has been aware of her relationship with art from a very young age. In elementary school, teachers became aware of her artistic abilities and encouraged her parents to help her pursue this path.
Her art before the 1960's were mostly figurative. Later, in the mid 1960's she turned to non-objective abstract works of art. Today, she continues to create paintings and collages using clean vivid colors, strong forms, shapes and continuous fluid movement. Her work allows the viewer space for interpretation. Javaheri has no mission or purpose in creating art. Even in her creative process, she doesn't plan her work ahead of time. Instead she simply sits in front of the canvas and creates. The colors and composition are composed through an impromptu effort.
Javaheri exhibits in Iran every two or three years. Her past exhibitions in Iran were held at Gallery Seihoun, Gallery Litho and Talareh Gallery. When in Iran, she says that her work is well received mostly by foreigners and those who have studied abroad. In Iran, she says, people do not have enough access to contemporary art. This has kept the arts from moving forward.
Javaheri resides in New York with her husband. She continues to create art and periodically visits Iran.