and Glory

Shahpour Pouyan’s exhibition ‘Towers’ showcase the rich architecture of Iran, and the artist talks about how Persian culture inspired him to bring out the best. Jewel-like colours, rich patterns, precise execution and virtuoso craftsmanship characterise the best of Persian paintings that Shahpour Pouyan brings out in his ‘Towers’ exhibition, that comes to an end today at the XVA Gallery.

By Raziqueh Hussain (ARTS + CULTURE)

Published: Sat 21 Feb 2009, 1:41 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:17 AM

ARTANDINSPIRATION: Shahpour Pouyan in DubaiThis is Pouyan’s first major exhibition of large works on canvas in the UAE. “Unique to Islamic architecture are the minaret, a tower from which the faithful are called to worship, and the gumbat, turbe or tomb tower. I’ve tried to bring them all out in my work,” Pouyan told Khaleej Times.

His main interest is deceptively simple and straightforward with plain surfaces contrasted by small areas of handcrafted intensely-worked ornamentation. “These towers are all from my imagination, but there is a certain amount of realism as they are all there; there’s nothing different and it looks like you must have seen this architecture somewhere, but it’s emerged from my mind’s eye,” he reveals.

Pouyan has been influenced by the supremacy of architecture that applies to both the pre-Islamic and post-Islamic period. “Iranian arts such as calligraphy, stucco, mirror work, and mosaic work became closely tied together in the new era. Islamic architecture and building decoration are among the most beautiful means of expression. Decoration does not play such an important role in any other type of architecture. That is why you will notice the details on my towers,” he adds.

Murals also interest him, having created one at Tehran University which covers an area of 350 sq metres with motifs from Iran’s mythological traditions such as Manichaean art and Mithraism. Manichaeism was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia. Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani (210-276 AD) have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived. Manichaeism thrived between the 3rd and 7th centuries. Mithraism was a mystery religion which became popular among the military in the Roman Empire, from the 1st to 4th centuries AD.

Architecture from the Turkish and Mongolian periods as well as during Qajar and Pehlvis, he says, have inspired him too.

Pouyan is typical of the young generation of Iranian artists who want to break taboos and explore new subject matter. “The people of Iran are very open to new ideas and most of my works are highly appreciated by the general public. I’m very influenced by the rich Persian culture which always creeps into my paintings.” And why not? “For more than three thousand years Persia was a melting pot of civilisations and demographic movements between Asia and Europe.”


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