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Finalist Announced for Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize


Iman Raad, MOPCAP, 2009

At the Magic of Persia's Dubai Gala this evening, seven Finalists were announced for the Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (MOPCAP) by the chair of the international Jury, Sheena Wagstaff, Chief Curator of Tate Modern in London.


The Finalists are:


Farhad Ahrarnia 

Vahid Chamani

Barbad Golshiri 

Sahand Hesamiyan

Abbas Kowsari

Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakhar

Newsha Tavakolian


Sheena Wagstaff said:


"The Jury was impressed by the broad scope and sheer diversity of extraordinary new work being created by young Iranian artists.  We are thrilled to know that this inaugural year of MOP CAP is the first of a long term commitment to giving prominence to the remarkable creative energy that infuses contemporary art by Iranian artists, seven of whom we have selected as Finalists."


There will be an exclusive preview of a selection of the Finalists' work at the Basement Gallery & Total Arts Gallery, Dubai on Sunday 12 April 2009. An exhibition of works by the seven Finalists will be exhibited at the Royal College of Art in London from 15-17 October 2009.


Since it was launched in September 2008, more than 130 emerging Iranian artists have been nominated for the Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (MOPCAP).


For the 2009 Prize, over 500 images of artwork were submitted across four categories: painting, photography, sculpture and new media. Entry to the Prize is by nomination by a panel of 47 experts in contemporary Iranian art and culture from around the world. 


The MOPCAP Jury is made up of 12 distinguished artists and curators from the international art world.


MOP CAP Finalists


Farhad Ahrarnia

Farhad Ahrarnia was born in Shiraz, Iran, in 1971. He attended Sheffield Hallam University, Northern Media School, from 1992 to1997. He works in a wide range of Media including textile, photography and video. The works submitted consist of a number of found images from media and cyberspace which are digitally printed onto cotton aida and are subsequently embroidered upon by using colourful threads.


Vahid Chamani

Vahid Chamani was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1984, where he continues to live and work.  He attended Tehran Fine Arts School and Tehran University, and is an associate member of the Iranian Painters Society.  Vahid's paintings are inspired by the Iranian cultural instability and the anxiety of Iran's current political and social climate.


Barbad Golshiri

Barbad Golshiri was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1982, where he continues to live and work.  Barbad studied painting at the School of Art and Architecture, Azad University, Tehran.  His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, including the recent 'Unveiled' exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London.  Barbad works in new media in a range of disciplines, from large scale installations to video art.


Sahand Hesamiyan

Sahand Hesamiyan was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1977.  He studied sculpture at Tehran University, and has participated in a number of group exhibitions in Tehran.  Sahand creates geometric sculptures, which are inspired by traditional Iranian arts such as tile working and architecture.  He aims for people to see geometry as sculpture, where in traditional arts, these forms have always been trapped on the surface.

Abbas Kowsari
Abbas Kowsari was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1970.  He has worked as a photographer for over ten leading Iranian newspapers and is currently senior photo editor for E'temad newspaper in Tehran.  His photographs have been published in The New York Times, Time magazine, Paris Match, Der Spiegel and Colors magazine of Benetton and several other international publications.


Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakhar
Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakhar was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1977.  He is a graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran, and has exhibited internationally since 2006. He draws inspiration for his works from the political and social issues that surround him.   Mahmoud has regularly exhibited at the Tehran sculpture Biennial at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Bangladesh Biennial and most recently was featured in an exhibition at the Barbican Centre in London.


Newsha Tavakolian
Newsha Tavakolian was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1981 and is a self-taught artist who began working with the Iranian press as a professional photographer at the age of 16. Working internationally, Newsha has covered Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudia Arabia and Pakistan, Yemen, Azerbaijan and India. Her work often focuses on women's issues and has been published in Time Magazine, Newsweek, Stern, Le Figaro, Colors, New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Le Monde 2, NRC Handelsblad and many others. She is a founding member of EVE (Evephotographers) and received the still photography award from the All Roads Film Project sponsored by National Geographic in 2006.


For extended biographies please visit:



The Finalists were chosen from the MOP CAP Shortlist of 34 artists:

Iman Afsarian

Maria Ahmadi-Emdadian

Parastoo Ahoan

Farhad Ahrarnia

Samineh Amel Sayah

Maryam Amini

Homayoun Askari Sirizi

Roshanak Bahramlou

Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakhar

Sepehr Bakhtiar

Tara Behbahani

Vahid Chamani

Hossein Cheraghchi

Ala Dehghan

Ala Ebtekar

Ramin Etemadi Bozorg

Barbad Golshiri

Rodin Hamidi

Sahand Hesamiyan

Amir Hussein Zanjani

Katayoun Karami

Simin Dokht Keramati

Abbas Kowsari

Shohreh Mehran

Mohammad Mosavat

Mehrdad Naraghi

Koushna Navabi

Nicky Nodjoumi

Fereydoun Omidi

Raha Raissnia

Mamali Shafahi

Shahram Karimi & Shoja Azari

Negar Tahsili

Newsha Tavakolian




Stuart Comer, Curator of Film, Tate Modern, London

Kamran Diba, Architect/Funding Director of Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

Rose Issa, Curator

Y.Z. Kami, Artist

Abbas Kiarostami, Artist

Axel Langer, Curator, Museum of Rietberg Zurich

Shirin Neshat, Artist

Julia Peyton-Jones OBE, Director, Serpentine Gallery, London

Venetia Porter, Curator of Islamic Art and the Contemporary Middle East, British Museum

Alireza Sami Azar, Former Director, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

Parviz Tanavoli, Artist

Sheena Wagstaff, Chief Curator, Tate Modern


Magic of Persia

Magic of Persia (MOP), a non-profit, non-political charity registered in the UK and the USA, educates young people on the value and unique contribution of Persian culture to society. MOP achieves its mission through the development and promotion of education and communication programmes, in partnership with world-class institutions.

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