From what we can see, the hit of the Asian Pacific Triennial (APT) in Brisbane Australia is “Lightning for Neda” (above), a 6-panel mosaic of mirror and painted glass by Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian commissioned by the Queensland Art Gallery.
That image, detail though it was, was enough to catch our eye and send us googling. We quickly realized that this was someone we wanted to know more about. The bio below is from the APT website:
Born 1924 Qazvin, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran, Iran
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian is a senior figure in contemporary Iranian art, with a distinguished career spanning over 50 years. Farmanfarmaian spent many years living in New York as an art student and later as a fashion illustrator at department store Bonwit Teller, where she worked alongside Andy Warhol. She returned to Iran in the 1960s and established herself as an artist, holding major exhibitions in Tehran, Paris, Venice and New York. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, she took refuge in New York, returning to Tehran in 2000 where she continues to work today. Her distinctive aesthetic translates Persian pictorial language into modern forms by combining mirror mosaic and reverse glass painting techniques with contemporary abstract styles. Her shimmering installations draw upon Islamic geometric patterning, Sufi symbolism, symmetry and traditional craftsmanship. Farmanfarmaian is creating a major six-panel mirror mosaic work for APT6, based on the form of the hexagon, reflecting the six virtues of generosity, self-discipline, patience, determination, insight, and compassion.
Exhibitions (solo): Leighton House Museum, London, United Kingdom, 2008; The Third Line, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2007; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom, 2006. Exhibitions (group): ‘East-West Divan’, 53rd Biennale of Venice, Italy, 2009; ‘The Power of the Ornament’, Belvedere, Vienna, Austria, 2008; Biennale of Venice, Italy, 1964 and 1958.
What a life. What a woman. What an artist. More sleuthing turned up the wonderful photographs below taken at the Leighton House Exhibit of 2008, “Geometry of Hope” by blogger and writer Nazy Kaviani of Berkeley, California.
From Kaviani’s post on Iranian.com, we learned that Farmanfarmaian honors the Iranian tradition of “Ayeneh Kari” in this body of work.
“Aneyneh Kari” is the art of cutting mirrors into small pieces and slivers, placing them in decorative shapes over plaster, creating artwork that is at once bright, reflective of light, colors and images, and expressive of beautiful patterns.
Farmanfarmaian (above) has written a memoir of her extraordinary life, “A Mirror Garden” co-authored by Zara Houshmand. We’re putting it on our Christmas Wish List immediately.
Australian radio host Phillip Adams interviewed Farmanfarmaian last week on his Late Night show. To hear the interview, click http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/stories/2009/2763829.htm
To read a marvelous story/interview from December 5th of Farmanfarmaian by Rosemary Sorenson of The Australian, click here.
To see more great art from the Asian Pacific Triennial in Brisbane, click here.
Enjoy — Nancie