With the plethora of narratives, perspectives, analyses, the continuous flow of events and constant transformations, it is extremely difficult to form a panoramic portrait of Iran. When one considers the diversity of its population, ethnicities, cultures, geography, and climate, such an idea becomes even more elusive.
In this context, both as an artist and a viewer of art, what would be one’s approach to forming a general picture of reality? How would one try to define themselves while keeping out the ideals imposed by the media, politicians, intellectuals, and the general public? For many Iranian artists, the answer has been an introspective exploration and an emphasis on individuality and the individual experience. As the sociopolitical reality remains quite unique to Iran, so does the quality of individual experience in this country, and many artists offer inward journeys in their work that ultimately connect to the broad spectrum that is life in Iran.
The country’s amazing diversity, while reinforcing idiosyncrasies, reflects an often inconsistent and confusing image: the very specific and unique sociopolitical context of Iran creates contrastive perceptions and experiences, both of one’s inner life and that of the external environment. However, the very specific and distinctive attributes of such a configuration creates a patchwork whose connective strings remain coherently insightful.
In this exhibition, which is the debut edition of a long-term project by Bavan Gallery, “The Land of Cypress Trees”, artists from multiple generations of Iranian artists working across media are gathered to display glimpses of the worldviews offered by the lifeforms of creative tenacity, and build up a collage of ideas and ideals, some shared by a few, some shared by many. For these artists, the question of survival is often elevated by the idea of expression: how far can one take one’s thought and imagination?
The Cypress Tree of Abarkuh, located in a spot somewhere almost in the very center of Iran, is believed to be one of the longest-living lifeforms of the world, estimated to have been growing for somewhere between four and eight thousand years. In addition to the numerous legends attributed to this tree, its original planting and the travelers who came to gaze upon it in awe, the tree, an undying symbol of resistance and resilience, of survival within the most extreme conditions, can itself resemble the ideal of expression and the perseverance of artistic vision. In this exhibition perseverance is not the theme but rather only a limited exposure to the truth, or a reality which often yields a sensible image of the truth.