Nine Iranian Artists in London: THE SPARK IS YOU (group show)
Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London
22 May - 30 August 2019
Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art is delighted to present Nine Iranian Artists in London: THE SPARK IS YOU, a group exhibition of works by contemporary Iranian artists whose vision looks beyond the ordinary. Each piece was selected for the affinity with openness, respect and human interconnectedness evinced in the work.
The Nine Iranian Artists in London: THE SPARK IS YOU exhibition, curated by Ziba Ardalan, Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of Parasol unit, is presented through a prism of classical Persian poetry and, fittingly, coincides with the 200th anniversary of West-oestlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan), 1819, a book of lyrical poems written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in homage to the fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafez. The exhibition, which includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations and film, focuses primarily on early- and mid-career artists who live either in Iran or elsewhere in an adopted country. A sense of duality exists within their works, with concepts stemming from private and collective experiences manifested either figuratively or in the abstract. Living and working in disparate parts of the world, each of the artists responds uniquely to modern society, yet a common heritage of poetry, evident in their use of metaphor and parable, runs through all their works.
Navid Nuur whose practice moves between concept and form, makes innovative and challenging works in response to human experience and abstract phenomena. The sky-blue light emanating from the 30 parallel rows of the wall-mounted Broken Blue Square, 2017, looks like neon but the cylindrical tubes are in fact filled with crushed glass and argon gas which glows an eerie blue when electrically charged. Presenting a substance that is not light per se, and what seems to be a static image but is actually a sculptural form in active chemical motion, is a reminder that appearances can be deceiving.
Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London
Navid Nuur (solo show)
Gemeentemuseum, The Hague
From April 2020
Navid Nuur (solo show)
Marta Herford Museum, Herford
From January 2020
Navid Nuur: Chapter 1NE (group show)
Het HEM, Zaandam
21 June - 1 September 2019
Het HEM’s opening chapter tells the story of Edson Sabajo and Guillaume Schmidt: a creative entrepreneurial duo known for their successful streetwear and lifestyle brand Patta.
Deeply rooted in hip-hop culture, Sabajo and Schmidt are among the cultural vanguard of Amsterdam. As facilitators, they are in constant contact with their artistic and musical environment, and give a face to a new generation of ‘homo universalis’: multitalented makers, in no way bound to a single form, discipline or artistic expression, venturing off the beaten tracks and away from standard platforms to create ripe conditions for realising their ideas.
‘Music is at the heart of everything we do,’ says Guillaume. ‘One of the basic principles of hip-hop is that you are unique: that you distinguish yourself from the rest and that you’re your own person.’ This is reflected in the music and rap texts, but also in clothing and in the overall lifestyle. Much more than a popular music genre, hip-hop takes the form of a philosophy of life, in which social awareness, brotherhood and a do-it-yourself creativity are intertwined.
Culture takes shape in communities. It develops through inspiration, interaction and the integration of new ideas. Through different historical periods, across various cultures and geographical influences, and among friends, family and kindred spirits. James Brown’s motto weaves a common thread through CHAPTER 1NE, which explores the nature of culture as something that is fluid and passed from one person to another. In addition, the famous words of the ‘Godfather of Soul’ – who regularly used his unique voice to express his political and social beliefs – also relate to Sabajo and Schmidt’s personal motivation to make a lasting social contribution through their entrepreneurship.
Stemming from hip-hop culture, this group exhibition focuses on the artistic language of sampling and assemblage, and on the philosophy of learning through doing as the basis for the emergence of new cultural narratives. The artworks unfold a layered story about the role of communities and the rise of a powerful and expressive urban culture, developing beyond the realm of the establishment and its conventional cultural venues. The programme zooms in on three specific aspects.
First, the method of breaking, sampling and assemblage as an artistic language and modus operandi to create something new based on the work of others. Aware of standing on the shoulders of giants, this sampling culture honours icons from the past through the free appropriation of references and quotes, and places Western concepts about originality and creative genius in a broader perspective.
As a counterculture, developing outside the established cultural venues, hip-hop has grown from a philosophy of learning through doing. Working independently from such institutions, cooperation, brotherhood and mutual support are an important engine for exploring new terrains. The community is therefore an essential hothouse for creativity, providing makers with the encouragement and incentive needed to make something out of nothing.
The third aspect lies within the roots of this culture, a complex story of migration and the representation of role models of colour. The body itself functions as an instrument of self-expression, as an anchor for rapprochement and social cohesion, but also as a beacon of conflict. All to often, individuals are held responsible for the image and reputation of an entire group, while this is based solely on skin colour or ethnicity. By exposing ourselves to diverse stories, examples and role models, we aim to break ingrained mechanisms of rash and often harmful assumptions.
Het HEM, Zaandam
THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice (group show)
To coincide with the 58th Venice Biennale
Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia, Venice
9 May - 23 November 2019
In celebration of its 15th anniversary, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art is delighted to present, through a prism of classical Persian poetry, an exhibition of works by nine contemporary Iranian artists at the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia from 9 May to 23 November 2019.
Curated by Ziba Ardalan, Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of Parasol unit, London, THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice exhibition has at its heart the need to develop mutual respect and understanding between different nations and cultures. Fittingly, this exhibition coincides with the 200th anniversary of West-oestlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan), 1819, a book of lyrical poems written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in homage to the fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafez.
The nine artists, all of whose vision looks beyond the ordinary, were selected for the affinity with openness, respect and human interconnectedness that is evinced in their work. Stemming directly from a long and magnificent tradition of Persian poetry, this philosophy of life is a fundamental element of the Iranian/Persian character. Dialogues open up across the exhibition, not only between the different generations of artists and the geographical regions from which they now draw inspiration, but also through a common desire to interact openly and respectfully with others. And, just as Goethe through his poetry sought to bridge East and West, these artists too seek to communicate mutually across all borders.
THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice exhibition of paintings, sculptures, installations, multi-media and film brings together Iranian artists of different ages, who now live and work either in or outside of Iran. Having had a similar early education and grounding in classical Persian poetry they have all benefited from thought processes that are rooted in concepts such as the use of metaphor, openness, dialogue and figurative thinking. Shown together, their works create a sense of exchange that is felt in many ways across and beyond the exhibition, not only between the art works but also in the desire of the artists to communicate with thinkers from other cultures, and finally between art and music.
Venice, with its renowned history of being central to so many connections between East and West, is an ideal setting for The Spark is You exhibition. Presented at the Conservatorio di Musica in Venice, visual art and music interact harmoniously, a reminder that different art forms are all part of a single discourse. Each artist presents their work in a separate room or an outdoor courtyard, which allows ample mental space for viewers to reflect on the exhibition and create their own dialogue with and between the works.
THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice exhibition highlights the vital importance of open dialogue in the development of greater understanding between all nations. Particularly in the tumultuous and uncertain times of today, this exhibition is timely and informative in ways that we hope will further engender curiosity, understanding and appreciation of other cultures and stimulate more conversations.