On September 27th 2010, Magic of Persia revealed a remarkable new exhibition of works by young Iranian artist, and winner of the 2009 Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize, Mahmoud Bakhshi, at the Saatchi Gallery.
The first of its kind, Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (MOP CAP) is a global search to identify the most talented emerging Iranian artists in the four distinct categories of Painting, Sculpture, Photography and New Media.
To ensure the highest possible quality of submitted works, entry into the competition is by nomination only, decided by a panel of experts in contemporary Iranian art and culture from around the world. As well as helping to launch the careers of Iranian artists worldwide, the prize also aims to alleviate stereotypes and to provide a platform for the burgeoning Persian art scene.
For his forthcoming exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, Bakhshi will present a new series of work. His installation will pose the question, what should an artist create in a country like Iran?
The process will serve to show, not what is there, but what is missing when art is limited and controlled. As Bakhshi explains, “In a society like Iran the artistic community has to negotiate its relationship with the authorities, with many resorting to underground activity.
“Traditional aesthetic approaches have been successful both within Middle-Eastern society and the art market for some time, yet I believe they have become ineffective in responding to anaesthetic approaches have been successful both within Middle-Eastern society and the art increasingly complex environment. For my new project I am attempting to initiate a new approach that seeks to reinvigorate Islamic society whilst adhering to its parameters.”
Born in Tehran–where he continues to live and work today–Bakhshi, via his work, will reference the revolution in Iran as well as his personal memories of his home nation, reflecting the relationship between the artist’s life and his environment.
In a wider context, Bakhshi has always felt that artists have the power to instigate change, “It has always been my belief that the artist has the potential of being a kind of hero who does not need to fight or kill but can achieve this status by creating something new, thus bringing hope to a society where there is a hunger for reformation.”
Bakhshi’s work was featured in the first exhibition of contemporary art at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran. Subsequently, Bakhshi has exhibited his work in both solo and group exhibitions, most recently, Tulips Rise From the Blood of the Nation’s Youth at Azad Gallery, Tehran; Last Ride in a Hot Air Balloon at The 4th Aukland Triennial; and a group show at the Galerie Thaddaeua Ropac, Paris.
He last exhibited in London in 2008 at the Barbican Centre. This was a group exhibition called Iran: New Voices, which explored contemporary Iranian film and video art.
Bakhshi was also granted a six month residency at the Changdong Art Studio, Seoul, before he went on to win the MOP CAP prize in 2009. He will also take on a residency at The Delfina Foundation as of September 13th, 2010. Now, author of ‘Sculpture’, a textbook for art schools in Iran, Bakhshi was once Editor in Chief and Art Director of Mojassameh (sculpture) magazine.
He is also the creator of Bon-gah Publication.
Photos by Saven Chadha