Preview: In Tehran, A New Art Fair To Whet Appetite For Local Art

BY Ayesha Shaikh / Jun 6 2018 / 20:04 PM

Teer's inaugural edition shines the spotlight on the Iranian capital’s treasure trove of galleries and artists

Preview: In Tehran, A New Art Fair To Whet Appetite For Local Art
All images courtesy of Teer and participating galleries
Newsha Tavakolian. Woman in Red. 2015. Edition of 4/5+2AP. 135x180cm. Courtesy of Ab-Anbar Gallery

As the appetite for Iranian art becomes more insatiable than ever, a buoyant new art fair rises to the fore in Tehran. At Teer, you can expect to peruse a profound selection of local art culled from 11 prominent galleries in the Iranian capital, with over 80 new commissions and previously unseen works by 70 artists at this launch edition. Behind the fair are Maryam Majid, director of Tehran’s Assar Art Gallery, and Hormoz Hematian, founding director of Dastan’s Basement, the first gallery to ever represent Iran at Art Basel in Hong Kong in March 2018. And with Teer, the objective remains the same: to nurture the Iranian art scene.

“Teer Art aims at boosting the local art market to present Iranian art coherently through galleries,” says Majid, stating how the fair is also a magnet for collectors. “Many collectors are not going to galleries anymore— they just go to fairs like shopping malls and fill up their carts,” says Salman Matinfar, director of Ab-Anbar Gallery participating at Teer with artists Majid Fathizadeh, Mohammad Ghazali, Newsha Tavakolian and Timo Nasseri. “And if we want to get out of our cocoon and become more international, this [fairs such as Teer] is the only way.” The gallery also plans on presenting an extension of their current exhibition by Y.Z. Kamzi at the fair.

Teer Art

Hormoz Hematian, founder of Teer and Dastan’s Basement, and Maryam Majid, founding director of Teer and Assar Art Gallery 

Hematian has his eyes set on offering visitors generous engagement with Tehran-based galleries, which he feels have previously not been given enough opportunities to showcase their works collectively. “Teer allows the audience to view what are Tehran’s galleries’ most interesting and exciting artworks,” he shares. “We see the fair as an opportunity for the galleries to build a closer community around contemporary art, both between the galleries and the audience, and among the galleries themselves.”

Teer Art

Mohammad Tabatabaei. Untitled. 2018. Acrylic on canvas. 150x100cm. Courtesy of Shirin Art Gallery

There are over 200 galleries in the capital alone, but the local art scene remains relatively small and highly local, Hematian laments. Teer aims at offering scintillating insight into the rich, culturally significant multimedia works of galleries ranging from sculptural works to paintings to photographs. Among the participating galleries is O Gallery and its founding director Orkideh Daroodi considers the fair to be a welcome addition that will draw in a more diversified crowd in addition to existing collectors. “The fact that this is the first time for this number of galleries to come together to participate in an event in the capital surely creates countless opportunities to promote our artists on a much greater scale,” says Daroodi.

At the fair, O Gallery will maintain its focus on figurative art and works on paper. There will be two works on paper by Omid Moshksar, two oil paintings by Omid Bazmandegan, a large-scale painting by Mohammad Khalili, and Shade Tami’s deeply contemplative self-portraits. “I think the fair’s presence will motivate and inspire gallerists and artists to further think beyond the borders. Our art system needs to believe in itself and Teer might just do that that is the power of evocation,” she adds.

Teer Art

Mohsen Fooladpour. Looti & Manzel. 2018. Ceramic and paint. 45x25x56cm. Courtesy of Shirin Art Gallery

And Teer surely promises to persevere and present a soft image of Iran amidst socio-political setbacks and the country’s often restrictive policies. “We are trying to represent a more realistic image of Iranian art scene. For many galleries, it is impossible to take part in international art fairs due to the currency crisis as well as constant deterioration of ease of travel for Iranian individuals,” Hematian points out. “However, when there is a more coherent presence of Iranian galleries under one roof, the attention of the foreign media can be more focused on representing realities of contemporary Iranian art, thus echoing the message further.”

Teer Art

Farnaz Rabieijah. From the No Man's Land series. 2018. Cement and copper electroplated plant. Shirin Art Gallery

Founder and director of Tehran’s Shirin Art Gallery, Shirin Partovi, urges the need to have a “reverse economic agenda” that would encourage a greater influx of international artists into local galleries. “I believe both Iran and the international communities will gain from a cultural exchange. Teer would be an excellent platform to achieve this,” she says.

“Teer Art can be compared to a miniature museum where galleries can represent and study the oeuvre of artists in a way that might not be easily accomplished in the format of gallery shows,” she notes, adding that her gallery will showcase a gripping mix of works by artists such as Vahid Chamani, Farnaz Rabieijah, Mohammad Tabatabaei, Sepehr Bakhtiar. Part of the fair’s highlights is a section titled ‘Beyond’, which will feature large-scale sculptural works. Following in on the footsteps of many prominent international art fairs, Teer will include talks and panel discussions on collecting, art events and the global art market.

Teer runs from 24-30 June at Ava Centre in Aghdassiye, Tehran.