Behjat Sadr, Untitled, 1974. Oil on paper pasted on hardboard, 92 x 140 cm, private collection
Museums

Iranian Artist Behjat Sadr at London's Mosaic Rooms

By Roxane Zand

L ike other women of her time, Iranian artist Behjat Sadr struggled with recognition in a male-dominated art world. Dusted Waters, a thoughtfully-curated solo show by Morad Montazami at The Mosaic Rooms in London, highlights her trajectory through a number of phases in her life, with the organization of the material and the exhibition spaces facilitating the understanding of her transitions.

Behdjat Sadr in her studio, Tehran, 1967
Behdjat Sadr in her studio, Tehran, 1967. Image courtesy of the Behjat Sadr Estate.

In a sense, the show could be called 'A Tale of Three Cities' since we follow the artist's periods in Rome in the 1950s, where she completed her artistic training; in Tehran of the 1960s and 1970s where she lived and worked; and in Paris from 1980 onwards, post-Revolution.

Exhibition view of Behjat Sadr: Dusted Waters. Photograph by Andy Stagg, Courtesy of The Mosaic Rooms.
Exhibition view of Behjat Sadr: Dusted Waters. Photograph by Andy Stagg, Courtesy of The Mosaic Rooms.

As a rebel, a pioneer and a kinetic artist, Sadr forged her own unique path through a practice which incorporated a diverse and unexpected system of symbols and plays on texture. What remains constant in her work however, is the repeated depiction of vertiginous vortexes comprised of twisted lines, powerful brushstrokes, and woven structures. Black seems her preferred colour, and a darkness permeates many of her works, marking the dazzling patterns or organic shapes like the traces of an elemental journey.

Behjat Sadr, Untitled, 1974. Oil on paper pasted on hardboard, 92 x 140 cm, Behjat Sadr Estate
Behjat Sadr, Untitled, 1974. Oil on paper pasted on hardboard, 92 x 140 cm, Behjat Sadr Estate

This important selection of works never shown before in the UK marks her achievements as a modern master of Iranian art. Against a backdrop of turbulent political events, Sadr's dramatic journey as an artist was also a testament to the emancipation of future generations of female artists who built on her legacy and played an increasingly visible role on the artistic platform.

Behjat Sadr, Untitled, circa 1975. Oil on canvas, 80 x 128 cm, Behjat Sadr Estate
Behjat Sadr, Untitled, circa 1975. Oil on canvas, 80 x 128 cm, Behjat Sadr Estate

The second in a three-part series of shows curated by Morad Montazami (entitled 'Cosmic Roads: Relocating Modernism), the show bears all the hallmarks of the curator's characteristic historical and intellectual perspective: full of exquisite detail, archival material and careful structuring. For those who seek understanding of Sadr's artistic legacy, this exhibition is a must-see.

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