Parviz TANAVOLI

Parviz TANAVOLI

Parviz Tanavoli est à la fois sculpteur, peintre, lithographe, collectionneur et spécialiste reconnu de l'art persan. Il a été une figure centrale de l'École Saqqa-Kana en émergeant comme un fervent partisan d'un modernisme influencé par les formes de culture visuelle populaire et d’expressions folkloriques iraniens.

Parviz Tanavoli est connu pour ses Heeches, représentations tridimensionnelles du mot persan pour « rien », heech. Ces sculptures sont composées de trois caractères du persan, dans le style Nastaliq : les trois lettres he, ye et če, qui se combinent pour former le mot heech. Son œuvre, qui comprend également la peinture, le dessin, les tissages et les gravures, est imprégnée de sa connaissance approfondie du riche patrimoine visuel, artistique, religieux et littéraire de l'Iran.


Ses sculptures « Heech » (rien en persan) - principalement créées dans les années 1970 - ont transformé un cri existentialiste nihiliste en une allégorie persane. Le mot avait ici une dimension spirituelle, faisant allusion au thème de l'anéantissement, un concept important dans la poésie soufie persane. Le Heech suggère une condition mystique au-delà du néant dont la forme calligraphique est une métaphore du corps humain. Si le mot lui-même suggére la mélancolie, Heech and Chair de Tanavoli dans sa couleur rouge vif est une œuvre joyeuse pleine de fantaisie et d'espièglerie.

« Une autre caractéristique qui a amélioré son attrait pour moi était la belle forme proportionnée du Heech. Comme la figure humaine, il était doux et souple et pouvait facilement prendre différentes positions, comme s'allonger ou s'asseoir sur une chaise ou s'appuyer contre une table. »
The artist, quoted in 1970s-2011 works from Artist’s Collection, Parviz Tanavoli: Poet in Love, exh. Cat., London, Desmond Fine Art, 2011, p.7).

Après avoir obtenu son diplôme à l'Académie de Brera, à Milan, Tanavoli en 1959 enseigna la sculpture pendant trois ans au Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Après son retour en Iran, il a pris la direction du Département de sculpture de l'Université de Téhéran, une position qu'il a maintenue pendant 18 ans, jusqu'en 1979, date à laquelle il s'est retiré de l'enseignement.

En 2017, son exposition individuelle, au Musée d'art contemporain de Téhéran, était sur ses œuvres et sur sa collection de lions. En 2015, le Musée Davis, au Wellesley College, a organisé la première exposition individuelle de son œuvre aux États-Unis. Il a exposé aussi à la Grey Art Gallery (en) de l'Université de New York. En 2003, il a eu une grande rétrospective, au Musée d'Art contemporain de Téhéran; auparavant, Parviz Tanavoli avait organisé des expositions individuelles en Autriche, en Italie, en Allemagne, aux États-Unis et au Royaume-Uni. Ses œuvres ont fait aussi l'objet d'expositions de groupe d'artistes au niveau international.

Ses œuvres se trouvent dans les collections de nombreux musées : le Tate Modern, le British Museum, le Metropolitan Museum of Art, la collection Ispahan de Nelson Rockefeller à New York, le Parc olympique de Séoul en Corée du Sud, le Walker Art Center, le Musée d'art moderne de Vienne, le Musée d'art moderne de New York, l'Université Hamline de Saint Paul, l'Université de Chiraz en Iran, le National Museum of Scotland et le Musée d'Art contemporain de Téhéran.
Parviz Tanavoli appartient au groupe d'artistes Saqqakhana qui, selon Karim Emami, partagent l'esthétique populaire8. Il a été fortement influencé par l'histoire, la culture et les traditions de son pays. Autrefois conseiller culturel de l'impératrice de l'Iran Farah Pahlavi et il a toujours été fasciné par la serrurerie et des tapis nomades persans.
En 2005, il a créé une petite sculpture, intitulée Heech dans une cage, pour protester contre les conditions des prisonniers américains dans le centre de détention de Guantanamo et en 2006 il a commencé à travailler sur sa sculpture pour honorer les victimes de la guerre du Liban.
En 2015, le documentaire « Parviz Tanavoli : Poetry in Bronce », retrace l'histoire de Tanavoli sur la voie de la création, qui a commencé en Iran dans les années 1950 et s'est étendue pendant plus de la moitié d'un siècle. Réalisé par Terrence Turner et produit par Timothy Turner et Tanavoli, ce documentaire présente des interviews exclusives avec Tanavoli et des figures éminentes dans le monde de l'art, qui éclairent l'apparition de cet artiste qui, de son foyer d'accueil en Canada continue a rentrer en Iran, pour enseigner aux jeunes artistes.

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Parviz Tanavoli (born 1937) is an Iranian sculptor, painter, educator, and art historian. He is a pioneer within the Saqqakhaneh school, a neo-traditionalist art movement. Tanavoli has been one of the most expensive Iranian artists in sales. Tanavoli series of sculpture work Heech are displayed in prestigious museums and public places, such as the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hamline University, Aga Khan Museum, and as public art in the city of Vancouver. Additionally Tanavoli has written extensively on this history of Persian art and Persian crafts. Since 1989, Tanavoli holds dual nationality and has lived and worked both in Tehran, and Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, British Columbia.
Parviz Tanavoli was born 24 March 1937 in Tehran. In 1952, he started his education at the Tehran School of Fine Arts (now part of the University of Tehran). He continued his studies in Italy at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara (Italian: Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara) in 1956 to 1957; as well as at Brera Academy (Italian: Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera) in Milan from 1958 to 1959. He studied under sculptor Mariano Marini.

Upon graduating from the Brera Academy in 1959, he returned to Iran in 1960 and taught sculpting at the College of Decorative Arts in Tehran.

From February 1961 to 1964, Tanavoli taught sculpture for three years at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, as a guest of art collector Abby Grey. He then returned to Iran and assumed the directorship of the sculpture department at the University of Tehran, a position he held for 18 years until 1979, when he retired from his teaching duties.

He belongs to the Saqqakhaneh group of artists who, according to the scholar Karim Emami, share a common popular aesthetic. He has been influenced heavily by his country's history and culture and traditions, and has always been fascinated with locksmithing. Tanavoli was once cultural advisor to the Shahbanu Farah Pahlavi. Tanavoli is known for his heeches, three dimensional representations of the Persian word for 'nothing', heech. Composed of three Persian characters in the style of nasta'liq, the three letters he, ye and če are combined to produce the word heech.

In 2003, Tanavoli turned his Tehran house into the "Museum of Parviz Tanavoli" showcasing his personal art collection, which was only open for a few months due to political issues in Iran.

In 1967, Tanavoli, Kamran Diba, and Roxana Saba (daughter of Abolhasan Saba) founded the Rasht 29 Club on a northern street near the Amirkabir University of Technology (formerly the Tehran Polytechnic). Rasht 29 Club was named after the street address, and it was a popular hangout amongst artists of the time including Marcos Grigorian, Hossein Zenderoudi, Sadegh Tabrizi, Faramarz Pilaram, Sohrab Sepehri, Massoud Arabshahi, Yadollah Royai, Nader Naderpour, Reza Baraheni, Esmail Shahroudi, Ahmadreza Ahmadi, Bijan Elahi, Ebrahim Golestan, Hageer Daruish, Kamran Shirdel, Sadeq Chubak, Karl Schlamminger, and others.

Tanavoli's work has been auctioned around the world leading to overall sales of over $9 million, making him the most expensive living Iranian artist. In 2008, his work, The Wall (Oh Persepolis), an almost 2-meter tall bronze sculpture covered in incomprehensible hieroglyphs fetched $2.84 million USD at a Dubai Christie's sale, which was an auction record for an artist of Middle Eastern origins.

His solo exhibition was in 2019 at the West Vancouver Art Museum entitled "Oh Nightingale". Prior to that, he had another solo exhibition in 2017 at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art based on his Lions works and Lion collection.

In 2015, after four decades, Davis Museum at Wellesley College organized the first solo exhibition of Tanavoli's work in the US.

In 2003 he had a major retrospective at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. Prior to that he had held solo exhibitions in Austria, Italy, Germany, United States and Britain. Tanavoli has been in group exhibitions internationally.

His work has been displayed at the Tate Modern, British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Grey Art Gallery - New York University, the Isfahan City Center, Nelson Rockefeller Collection, New York, Olympic Park, Seoul, South Korea, the Royal Museum of Jordan, the Museum of Modern Art, Vienna, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Hamline University, St. Paul and Shiraz University, Iran.
In 2005, he created a small piece of sculpture called Heech in a Cage to protest the conditions of the American-held prisoners at Guantanamo Bay detainment camp and in 2006 began work on his piece to honour the victims of the Israeli-Lebanon war.

A day before Tanavoli was due to speak at the British Museum in 2016, authorities in Iran confiscated his passport, preventing him from leaving the country, accusing him of "disturbing the public peace". Tanavoli explained that "I have not done anything wrong. I spent the whole day at the passport office but no one told me anything, nor did anyone at the airport. I'm not a political person, I'm merely an artist."

In 2015, the biographical documentary film was released, Parviz Tanavoli: Poetry in Bronze, directed by Terrence Turner and produced by Timothy Turner and Tandis Tanavoli.

In October 2020, the former Mina Street in the Niavaran neighborhood was renamed Parviz Tanavoli by the municipality of Tehran.