21 Jul
Fri / 2017

Inside the MFAH
A Closer Look at “Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians—The Mohammed Afkhami Collection”

This summer the MFAH presents Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians—The Mohammed Afkhami Collection, a focused survey of contemporary Iranian art from the distinguished collection of philanthropist Mohammed Afkhami. For audiences unfamiliar with the rich traditions of Persian art, and its manifestations in the work of today’s artists, taking a close look at the exhibition is especially rewarding.

Two of the featured artists play upon Iran’s long history of exquisite draftsmanship: Nazgol Ansarinia and Alireza Dayani. Both use discreet details in their beautifully rendered drawings as a subtle form of social critique, building upon and challenging tradition.  

Nazgol Ansarinia, Untitled II (detail)
Nazgol Ansarinia, Untitled II (detail), from the Pattern series, 2008, ink and digital print on paper. © Nazgol Ansarinia / Courtesy of Green Art Gallery, Dubai, and the Mohammed Afkhami Foundation

Ansarinia takes inspiration from carpet designs, and Untitled II from her Pattern series echoes the classical arabesques and plant forms commonly found in Persian rugs.  Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll see that Ansarinia has inserted vignettes reflecting everyday life in contemporary Tehran: cyclists, TV news anchors, housewives standing in line, and office clerks drinking tea can be picked out from the overall design. Among her most telling details is the clusters of satellite dishes, the universal means of communication across national borders. 

Alireza Dayani, Untitled
Alireza Dayani, Untitled, from the Metamorphosis series, 2009, ink on cotton rag paper. © Alireza Dayani / Courtesy of the Mohammed Afkhami Foundation

Dayani’s monumental drawing, which is more than 13 feet wide, describes a vast underwater panorama. A part of the artist’s ongoing Metamorphosis series, it displays every imaginable form of aquatic life. Woven into this composition are subtle allusions to Darwinian evolution, as mermaid-like figures emerge from the ocean’s depths. In Dayani’s utopia, creatures of the sea—both real and imagined—exist in close symbiosis with their surroundings, evolving in harmony with the overall flux of nature.

Alireza Dayani, Untitled (detail)
Detail of Alireza Dayani’s Untitled

See more in the exhibition “Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians—The Mohammed Afkhami Collection,” on view in the Beck Building through September 24.


Recent Posts

Post Archives

Tag Cloud

35mm 5womenartists abstract african-art a-history-of-photography american american-art ancient and angelica-kauffmann animals anna-atkins antiquities architecture art art-books art-of-the-islamic-worlds arts-of-india azaleas bayou bayou-bend bayou-bend-christmas-village bend bestowing-beauty biblical british british-arrows british-art broadways-amazing-mastersons buffalo-bayou-park-cistern campus campus-redevelopment carroll-sterling-masterson chef chinese-art christmas christmas-fun cinema cisternrain classic classic-films color colors-of-the-oasis concrete conservation contemporary-art contemporary-arts-museum-houston contemporary-film contesting-modernity countess cullen-sculpture-garden curator curators-picks dance decorative-arts degas degas-a-new-vision digital dont-blink-robert-frank drawings dutch-art electronic elizabeth-i england e-records eye-on-houston family-programs fashion fashion-fusion festival fiber-arts field film flowers french french-art fun future futuremfah gainsborough gallery-interpretation garden garden-paradise gardens george-iii glassell glassell-school-of-art google-art-project habsburg-splendor-masterpieces-from-viennas-imperial-collections halloween happy-new-year harris-masterson-iii henry-viii hirsch-library history holiday holiday-fun hollywood homemfah homeso-different-so-appealing houston howe icaa ikat ima-hogg impressionism indian-art interactive ipads japanese-art joshua-reynolds kenwood king kodak latin latin-american-art latino-art latin-wave laura-israel learning-and-interpretation love mail maria-fernanda-cardoso mastersons mayan-art media mending-craft-and-community mexican-film mexican-modernism mfa-cafe mfah mfah-films mfah-in-the-community mfah-staff modern modernism movie movies movies-houstonians-love mueck mueckmfah museum museum-education music native-american-art new nhprc now-on-view now-playing organic oscar-de-la-renta painting paint-the-revolution paul-thomas-anderson peacock-in-the-desert-the-royal-arts-of-jodhpur-india peacockmfah persian-art photographs photography picasso portrait portraits prints prints-and-drawings programs queen-victoria rebel-jester-mystic-poet rembrandt-van-rijn rienzi ron-mueck rothko sampler sculpted-in-steel sculpture shadow-monsters shepherds short-films snail snapshot spanish-art spring summer technology texas textiles thanksgiving the the-al-sabah-collection the-glamour-and-romance-of-oscar-de-la-renta tudors-to-windsors valentines-day venezuelan-art video vincent-van-gogh vincent-van-gogh-his-life-in-art wagner-garden-carpet watercolor winter women-filmmakers womens-history-month works-on-paper