LOS ANGELES - A shift in mood and perception amongst Americans about Persians (aka Iranians) is a welcome thing. Over recent times and as a result of several cultural and lobbying initiatives, one sees the beginnings of change.
Only two nights ago, a throng of distinguished guests at New York's Museum of Modern Art gathered to hear Professor Charles Melville of Cambridge University talk about launching a support group in the United States for the Shahnameh project at Pembroke. Hosts Ali and Monica Wambold emphasised in their speeches what it has meant to them to encounter reactions to, and sometimes ignorance about Persian culture and history. The success and longevity of this project at Cambridge will be significant for the improvement of understanding and the image of Iran worldwide.
Mohammad Bahabadi's Red for Red, 2014.
Today, driving down LA's Sunset Boulevard I caught sight of a multitude of banners promoting Aeschylus' celebrated play, Persians. This is an acclaimed production with Ellen Lauren in the lead, and a strong supporting cast in that wonderful repository of antiquities in this part of the world, the Getty Villa. Only a year ago the Getty Museum hosted the Cyrus Cylinder to great fanfare. It made me glad to see the continued interest.
Los Angeles however, (affectionately known as Tehrangeles due to its large population of Iranians!) is about to wake up to yet another significant and heralded arrival: a landmark exhibition of artworks organised by Magic of Persia and shown at Sothebys premises on Sept 16. The exhibition of works from around the MENA region but mostly concentrated on Iranian art, will also include some great pieces by Western artists – all to be sold for the charity. The main part will be auctioned on November 12 as part of the Sothebys Day sale in New York, and a smaller section auctioned at a private function in LA.
Alireza Astaneh's The Red Love, 2014.
With a fresh eye and better outlook, hopefully we are seeing a new chapter in US-Iran relations, and with the easing of sanctions one can only see these artistic initiatives in a positive context. The art works for sale will speak for themselves – always strong and vibrant, Iranian artists continue to be acclaimed as some of the best in the region. Come and see for yourself on Sept 16 if you are in or around LA! It will allow you also a glimpse of a few highlights from the Sothebys sale in Doha on October 13. The highlights will also be shown in New York from 20–24 September.
Arts of the Islamic World
8 October, London
Contemporary Art / Doha
13 October, London