Bita Ghezelayagh's first solo exhibition in Europe features a collection of felt costumes, made for display only, which combine talismanic symbols, silk screen printing and embroidery.
Previously an architect and art director of several Iranian films, Ghezelayagh started working with felt in 2004. She feels that it embodies qualities such as simplicity, heft and resilience, which she notices are often disregarded in Iran's march to modernity.
"Making my first designs, and travelling around Iran searching for the best techniques, I came across a display of felt shepherds' capes in a provincial bazaar. They hung inertly, heavily, a reminder of earthy tradition amid the gaudy consumer goods, and were a poignant validation of Joseph Beuys' elevation of felt into art."
Ghezelayagh began designing her own display tunics and capes as felt canvasses on which to express her memories of growing up in Iran. She was born in Italy in 1966, and brought up in Tehran where she lived through the revolution of 1979 and the war with Iraq (1980-88). She found herself heavily influenced by post-revolutionary visual popular culture - particularly its symbols of resistance, protection and martyrdom. A thousand and one metal keys, crowns, tulips and images of the renowned Iran-Iraq war hero Hossein Kharazi printed onto metal tags are sewn onto the garments. Ghezelayagh combines these elements with Persian phrases - such as "Martyrdom is the Key to Paradise" - and the names of military campaigns or the testaments of war heroes, which are silkscreen printed and embroidered onto the felt.
Like the well-known Iranian artists from the Saqqaqaneh movement of Iranian Pop Art in the 1950s, such as Hossein Zenderoudi and Parviz Tanavoli, Bita Ghezelayagh has sought a new visual language that embraces tradition and modernity through a unique combination of ancient signs, symbols and calligraphy with conceptual art.
Rose Issa is an independent curator, producer and writer specialising in the visual arts and films of the Middle East and North Africa. For the last 27 years Issa has curated film festivals and exhibitions on contemporary arts from the Arab world and Iran in collaboration with private and public institutions in Britain and abroad.
Exhibition venue: Rose Issa Projects, 269 Kensington High Street, London W8 6NA, Tel + 44 (0) 20 7602 7700
For further information, exhibition images and interview requests please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.roseissa.com.
... Payvand News - 04/27/09 ... --