Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians — Aga Khan Museum, Toronto | Read also on CNN “Iranian artists defy Western stereotypes in a new group exhibition”

Cultural rebellion and lyrical reflection come together in this world-premiere exhibition showcasing one of the most important collections of contemporary Iranian art. Encounter the works of 23 artists who have chosen self-expression over silence — men and women separated by generations but united in their desire to explore complex issues against a backdrop of political and social unrest.

Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians

Feb 4 2017 to Jun 4 2017


Shiva Ahmadi
Morteza Ahmadvand
Shirin Aliabadi
Afruz Amighi
Nazgol Ansarinia
Mahmoud Bakhshi
Ali Banisadr
Alireza Dayani
Mohammed Ehsai
Monir Farmanfarmaian
Parastou Forouhar
Shadi Ghadirian
Rokni Haerizadeh
Khosrow Hassanzadeh
Shirazeh Houshiary
Y.Z. Kami
Abbas Kiarostami
Farhad Moshiri
Timo Nasseri
Shirin Neshat
Shahpour Pouyan
Hamed Sahihi
Parviz Tanavoli

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Featured Video: Behind the Scenes: Installation of Farhad Moshiri’s “Flying Carpet”

Source:Aga Khan Museum

Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians

Saturday, February 4, 2 pm

A Night with Mohsen Namjoo at the Toronto Centre for the Arts

Friday, February 24, 8 pm

100 Years of Iranian Piano Music: Layla Ramezan with Special Guest Sina Bathaie

Saturday, February 25, 8 pm

Mystic Persian Music and Poetry with Soley Ensemble

Saturday, March 4, 8 pm

Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Art

Sunday, March 5, 10:30 am

Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic

Friday, March 10, 2017, 8 pm

Sahba Motallebi with Special Guest Maneli Jamal at the Toronto Centre for the Arts

Saturday, March 11, 5 pm


CNN Writes:

Iranian artists defy Western stereotypes in a new group exhibition

By Rhiannon Russell, CNN

Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT) March 6, 2017

Rokni Haerizadeh, who was born and raised in Tehran, now lives and works in Dubai with his brother Ramin, also an artist. The two have been living there in self-imposed exile since 2009, when they were targeted by the Iran's Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance.

Toronto, Canada (CNN)One piece shows a woman wearing a loosely tied hijab, her peroxide-blonde hair hanging in front. She has blue contact lenses and blows a large pink bubble with her gum. Another features 32 stacked Persian carpets, each with a cutout in the shape of a fighter jet.

Both works — along with 25 others — are on display at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum as part of “Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians,” a new exhibition of Iranian art.

Each piece is distinctive, crafted using a range of media, from video to paint to photography. Some are political, some aren’t. This diversity is the beauty of how the exhibition was curated, says Mohammed Afkhami, the Iranian financier and philanthropist who provided the works from his private collection of more than 300 pieces of post-revolution Iranian art.

“It’s hard not to find a work that either resonates with you or, at least at the very minimum, you aesthetically like,” he says. “There’s something there for everybody.”

The exhibition is meant to offer an alternative to what’s typically shown in news coverage of Iran and the Middle East as a whole.

“When you turn on the news, it’s like, from Syria to Iraq to Libya, those places are all in turmoil,” he says. “So that’s what people think of the whole region … When people say, ‘Oh, Iranians make art?’ it means (Iranians are) compassionate people; they’re people who have sensitivity, feelings, a sense of perspective. That’s something that you don’t see that much because, unfortunately, the media does not show that positive narrative.”

Divided by politics

Given the current political climate, it seems especially poignant that this collection is touring internationally. Yet the timing is purely coincidental. Afkhami was in talks with the Aga Khan Museum long before President Donald Trump was elected, and long before Trump signed his executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from entering the US.

(This summer, the exhibition will travel to a “major, major US institution,” Afkhami says.)


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