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Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize: Finalists Prepare for the International Art Prize in London


Six young Iranian artists are preparing for a major exhibition of their work at the Royal College of Art, London, 15- 17th October 2009. A distinguished international jury, led by Sheena Wagstaff, Chief Curator at Tate Modern, has shortlisted each of them for finalists' exhibition of the Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (MOP CAP).

The MOP CAP Finalists are:

Farhad Ahrarnia
Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakhar
Vahid Chamani
Sahand Hesamiyan
Abbas Kowsari
Newsha Tavakolian

Commenting on the list, Sheena Wagstaff said that it was thrilling to be able to "give prominence to the remarkable creative energy that infuses contemporary art by Iranian artists."

Artistic enterprise has long been integral to Iranian society and Contemporary art has become a vehicle for expression for a number of young Iranians. Their artistic innovation is a bright light for Iranian culture and has helped bridge divides with the West. In recognising and showcasing the strength of these works, the artists will present an image of Iran that speaks of a deep rooted artistic heritage.

Presented by Magic of Persia, the London based charity, in collaboration with the London and Tehran- based cultural consultancy Candlestar, the exhibition will showcase the six finalists of the Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (MOP CAP). This is the first global award to recognise the talent of emerging Iranian artists. To ensure the highest possible quality of submission, entry was solely by nomination. Forty seven leading experts drawn from within the Iranian and international arts communities acted as nominators for the award.

Nominators used their specialist knowledge to identify emerging artists that represent the diversity and vitality of the contemporary Iranian art scene. They put forward over 120 artists who, in turn, submitted over 500 artworks across four categories: Painting, Photography, Sculpture and New Media.

The finalists exhibition will take place at the Royal College of Art in London from 15-17 October 2009 with the announcement of the MOP CAP winner on Saturday 17 October 2009.

Before the announcement of the winner, the works of the finalists will be auctioned by Christie's with half of the proceeds going to the artists and half to support the artists' residency programme established by Magic of Persia.


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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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