Posted on March 22, 2012 1 Comment
Hassanzadeh is known as a political artist in Iran. His works often deal with issues that are considered sensitive in Iranian society. His works are generally concerned with Islam as a factor in the interplay between East and West. Hassanzadeh first gained international recognition with his “War” series (1998), a grim and trenchant diary of his own experiences as a volunteer solider during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988).
In the “Terrorist” series, Hassanzadeh questions the concept of terrorism in international politics by portraying himself, his mother and sisters as terrorists. As the artist explains, “This series is the result of two years of thought, research and travel. It is a reflection of a world where the word ‘terrorist’ is thrown about thoughtlessly. What is a terrorist? What are the origins of a terrorist and in an international context; who defines ‘terrorism’? The West, with its personal definition of terrorism, give itself the right to take over a country, while in the Middle East the West is clearly accused of being full-fledged terrorist.”
In the series ‘Ya Ali Maddad’, Hassanzadeh pays homage to the culture of the past, along with several other visual aspects of Iranian culture, in his work. “Ya Ali Maddad” whose title is taken from the prayers of Pahlavan wrestlers before a match, the artist expands on his fascination with the Qajar-period heroes, here executed with highly charged acrylic colors on ceramic tiles. The script “Ya Ali Maddad’ whirls around Pahlavans holding each other’s hands and posing in the center of the scene while surrounded by a Dervish, a court intellectual, a General and a Mullah. By extension it has become a popular ‘good luck message’, recalling the values carried by Ali, the patriarch of the Shi’a tradition known for his strength, humility and generosity towards the poor.
As the artist explains, “Wrestlers used to be an integral part of our culture. They were the caretakers of society; they were powerful men, strong men who were society’s protectors and providers. They helped people in need—whether helping to organize wedding ceremonies and memorials, or organizing relief during earthquakes. This culture has now been lost.” Hassanzadeh lives and works in both Tehran and London. He studied painting as Mojtma-e Honor Univertsity, Tehran (1989-91), and Persian literature at Azad University, Tehran. His work has been shown in a number of institutions in the Middle East, Europe ad the U.S, including the British Museum, London; The Tropen Museum, Amsterdam; The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran; The Chelsea Art Museum, New York; and the World Bank, Washington, DC.
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