Code: 6880 A

TEHRAN (IRANART)  Tanavoli is known for his heeches, three dimensional representations of the Persian word for 'nothing', heech.

The news couldn’t be more exciting: Concurrent with a retrospective exhibition of Parviz Tanavoli’s The Lions of Iran, the Austrian-Iranian Symphonic Orchestra (AISO) will be presenting programs at the Vahdat Hall in honor of the master himself.

Parviz Tanavoli (born 23 March 1937 in Tehran) is an Iranian sculptor, painter, scholar and art collector. He has lived in Vancouver, Canada since 1989. His work has been auctioned around the world leading to overall sales of over $6.7 million, making him the most expensive living Iranian artist.

Tanavoli is known for his heeches, three dimensional representations of the Persian word for 'nothing', heech. Composed of three Persian characters in the style of nasta'liq. His Persepolis, auctioned at record $2.8 million, is the most expensive sculpture ever sold from the Middle East at an auction. Now after almost 17 years, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMOCA) has organized a retrospective of his work.

The news couldn’t be more exciting: Concurrent with the exhibition, the Austrian-Iranian Symphonic Orchestra (AISO) a joint symphony orchestra of Iranian and Austrian musicians, is also presenting programs in the capital city. The symphony has not been presented in Iran for a period of 36 years, according to the orchestra director Maziar Yunesi.

More exciting is that Yunesi is collaborating with two other eminent musicians - Christophe Rezai and Peyman Yazdanian. They have conducted a repertoire of pieces in honor of Tanavoli and they will perform in his presence at the Vahdat Hall, located on Shahriar Blvd., Hafez St., south of Enqelab Ave. The program is slated for July 3 and 5.

This is the first time ever that the TMOCA is organizing such a magnificent program for Tanavoli, who single-handedly globalized modern Iranian sculpturing, played a key role in its research and development, and shared his unique experiences and techniques with hundreds of students via subject-specific master classes.

The program is a firm answer to those who tried for years to isolate and marginalize the master of sculpture but to no avail. They refused to see his unique shapes and forms, or the man behind the art itself.


A Trip Down Memory Lane at TMOCA

The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is scheduled to exhibit work by sculpture Parviz Tanavoli. It’s still too early to confirm the news, but one thing is certain: A press conference will break the news one week prior to the program.

The exhibition will put on display a collection of less-known work under the rubric of “The Lions” or “The Lions of Iran”. It promises to be nothing less than a journey through the soul of the nation. A confluence of lion-inspired works by Tanavoli including sculpture, paintings, jewelry and rugs, and lion-related pieces from the artist's personal collection - as well as pieces on loan from the National Museum of Iran that date back two to three millennia.

The exhibition has been a five-year project in the making. It’s great news for the museum itself and art lovers, although it’s not that easy to compare it to Tanavoli’s last exhibition in the same venue 17 years earlier. Back in 2002, a collection of work put him on international spotlight for all the right reasons: The retrospective exhibition of Heech Sculptures, plus the Wall, (a number of Persepolis walls), The Poet, The Lovers, and even paintings enthused many to take a trip down the memory lane with him, in particular, at a time when the father of Iranian modern art, sculptor, scholar and polymath, was in self-exile in Canada, totally isolated and forgotten.

Anyhow, the solo exhibition was one a kind when the country also had a reformist administration. His inquisitiveness was endearing; he had a predilection for ancient Persian stone lions and tombstones and, crucially, a love of locks, which informed his sculptural forms since the 1960s.

The man who made the first manifestation of Heech in 1965, when he painted the calligraphic notation on to a mixed-media piece shown at the Borghese Gallery, has been a blessing in disguise for contemporary colleagues. His powerful presence in international art market has brought admiration for Iranian art. It was the Museum House at the Tehran Municipality and his own cultural efforts and projects that helped reinvigorate the deep-seated roots of Iranian-Islamic art.

More importantly, it was the exhibition itself that helped break the taboo after so many years when some couldn’t even stand the idea of having a Tanavoli retrospective exhibition, let alone having it at the TMOCA. All in all, the 2002 exhibition helped promote and contemporize Iranian cultural heritage.


Tanavoli Concert at Vahdat Hall

The joint symphony orchestra of Iranian and Austrian musicians for Tanavoli is organized in collaboration with the Pari Safa Music Foundation and Hermes Records. Tickets are on sale at 60 to 100 per single seat.

Maziar Yunesi is scheduled to conduct the AISO, which is slated to perform a repertoire of pieces composed by himself and his fellow musicians Christophe Rezai and Peyman Yazdanian in honor of Tanavoli.

The Austrian-Iranian Symphonic Orchestra or AISO was founded by the Austrian Cultural Forum (OKF) in 2006. The director of the AISO is prominent Austrian conductor Christian Schulz. He comes from a known Viennese musician family and started his musical career as cellist through studies for violoncello. Later on he studied in conducting – both at the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna.  

He also performs as chamber musician, soloist and cellist for the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra. Since 2010, Schulz is the general director of the Musical Program of “OKF Teheran” (Osterreichischen Kulturforum Teheran – Austrian Cultural Forum). This position entails the direction of the Austrian-Iranian Symphonic Orchestra and the AIC Choir (Austrian-Iranian Choir).  

Apart from his occupation as conductor, Schulz has also written compositions, some of which have premiered across the globe. He has performed at international festivals and for embassies, including in Tehran. He has organized training workshops, seminars and subject-specific master classes in conducting.

Translation by Bobby Naderi


Parviz tanavoli heech
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