By Manijeh Rezapoor

Sculptor Parviz Tanavoli to realize his “Lions” dream

June 19, 2017

TEHRAN – Prominent sculptor Parviz Tanavoli, best known for his sculpture series “Heech”, will display his collection “Lions” at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, making his dream of 50 years come true.

About 150 artworks created by the artist with the central theme of the lion, beside his private collection of lion-themed works, as well as lion-themed ancient artifacts of Iran borrowed from different Iranian museums will go on display in the exhibition “Parviz Tanavoli and the Lions of Iran” opening on July 3. 

“I am very happy to hold this exhibit. This has been one of my dreams over the past 50 years. Since the time I became familiar with lions (in my culture), I have been constantly doing studies and research about lions,” Tanavoli said in a press conference held at the museum on Monday.

“We have two ancient symbols in our culture: one is the lion and the other is the cedar tree. These two are eternal symbols of Iran, and I have not found any ancient culture like Iran to have had such permanent symbols, and this makes this exhibit unique in the world,” Tanavoli said.

The sculptor also said that his oldest work of his “Lions” series that is a painting goes back to 1962 and then a ceramic lion he made the next year.

“My lions changed gradually over the years. They grew bigger and bigger since I got to know the importance of lion in our culture more and more and I made most of the lions over the past 20 years,” he explained.

He added that his largest, lion which weighs three tons, will go on display in the exhibit for the first time. 

Secretary of the exhibit Behzad Hatam called the exhibit a rare opportunity.

“This exhibit reveals an important aspect of Tanavoli as an artist and sculptor. He has played a major cultural role beside his art, and that is he has collected little cultures and discards of the country over the years,” Hatam said at the conference. 

“He collected all the things people were tired of and had thrown away like locks, keys and seals, and followed the cultural process of Iran, making them his source of inspiration,” he said.

Hatam also explained that Tanavoli acted like a refinery, that is, he put the raw materials into the refinery and remade them and created a precious art.

Tanavoli made his outstanding artworks from the works by very simple people, Hatam said.

Mohammadreza Kargar, the director of Iran’s Museums and Historical Properties Office, also attending the conference, gave details on how works were selected from the museums across the country.

“The central theme was quite clear and master Tanavoli had comprehensive knowledge about different lions appearing on Iranian cultural artifacts such as carpets, metal or stone works. Some of these items dating back to 5000 years ago are from the National Museum of Iran, including the Achaemenid Persian Lion Rhyton; some are from the Reza Abbasi Museum and several others are from different museums across the country,” Kargar said.

The opening ceremony will be followed by screening “Cypher and Lion”, a documentary on the artistic insight of Tanavoli by director Sarvnaz Alambeigi. The exhibit will be running until August 29.

In addition, the Austrian-Iranian Symphonic Orchestra (AISO) will honor Tanavoli by two performances at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall on July 3 and 5.

Maziar Yunesi is scheduled to conduct the AISO, which is slated to perform a repertoire of pieces composed by himself and his fellow Iranian musicians Christophe Rezai and Peyman Yazdanian.

Photo: “Big Lion”, the largest work from Parviz Tanavoli’s series “Lions”, was completed in 2016.

RM/MMS/YAW

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