Morteza Pourhosseini’s The Circus 2 (Self Portrait).

NEW YORK - Iranian art continues to flourish in New York. After a series of successful shows in September, art patron Maryam Panahy Ansary and her son Nader, in collaboration with art dealer Massoud Nader, will be unveiling Morteza Pourhosseini’s first international solo show entitled ‘The Circus’ at the Upper East Side’s Bohemian National Hall. Pourhosseini is a fast-rising young contemporary artist who has not only sold successfully in Sothebys’ 2011 London sale of Middle Eastern art but has also recently been acquired by the Met.

Morteza Pourhosseini’s The Circus 7.

As if on a magical mystery tour, this exhibition of Pourhosseini’s latest works brings many layers of meaning to its audience in a series of arresting portraits. A circus it definitely is: sword-swallowers, zurkhaneh-type wrestlers, dagger-players – all appear before us in dazzling hyper-realism. Seemingly modern figures bear the stamp of tradition, sometimes with exquisite calligraphy casting a shadow or showing up as a tattoo. One or two works push the boundaries, while others make disturbing statements, at once weaving the two incompatible ideas of religion and magic together. There is a vulnerable balance between beauty and terror, the message clearly relying on the sheer power of the unexpected.

These mid-size, easily relatable works with their masterful artistry will appeal to many. After all, there is nothing quite like the combination of enigma and anomaly to startle and captivate. The exhibition is only on view through November 25th.