Despite restrictions in Iran, a new crop of artists creates works that blend ancient and modern history and ideas, winning acclaim at home and abroad …
Artist Khosrow Hassanzadeh says he was never more delighted than when a barely literate carpenter arrived at his dingy studio to make some repairs and stood, mouth agape, staring at one of his works.
It was a garish, gigantic diorama of a famous Iranian professional wrestler, decorated with cheap trinkets, fake flowers and esoteric memorabilia comprehensible only to locals in the south Tehran neighborhood.
“I do art for my neighbor,” says Hassanzadeh, whose larger-than-life works incorporate the Islamic Republic’s bombastic propaganda with street-level Iranian kitsch and the playful sensibilities of Andy Warhol.
Hassanzadeh, 46, is among the most successful of a new crop of artists in Iran who seamlessly meld East and West, even as they breezily blend Iran’s traditions, both hokey and classical, religious and secular, and its recent history, especially the traumas of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war [...]