Iranian galleries prefer to continue lockdown in pandemic 

May 9, 2020 - 18:30

TEHRAN – Art galleries across Iran are allowed to resume activities during the new coronavirus pandemic, however, gallery owners prefer to continue the lockdown since there are no visitors, buyers, or dealers.

“Any art exhibit which opens these days will be spoiled, because there are no visitors and no buyers,” Lili Golestan, owner of Tehran’s Golestan Gallery, told the Persian service of ISNA on Saturday.
The Visual Arts Office of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has agreed since April 20 that art galleries may reopen after an over two-month shutdown due to the pandemic.

The galleries may reopen provided that they avoid any gatherings, and have registered online with the Health Ministry, the office said.

“All the good events happen during the opening ceremonies, however, if even an opening ceremony is allowed, nobody will attend, therefore any exhibition these days will be spoiled,” Golestan said.

She added that an online exhibit at Golestan Gallery was a good experience, and had a good sale,

“However, an online exhibit cannot be compared with a regular exhibit. Online galleries make do not yield good profits, and with the current situation it is only considered a hobby.” 

“The same is true all over the world, and we are no exception,” she noted.

Many galleries have gone out of business, artists have lost livelihoods these days, and the cultural industry is focusing on the Internet, because it represents an alternative way to allow art galleries to exhibit their works.

“The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has agreed to pay the rent for some galleries, but we own our gallery, and we have to pay our employees, but here is no income. We know we must accept the current situation and there is no other way. Of course, we have no objection for the ministry to pay the rent; this is a positive step,” she remarked.

Cartoonist Kambiz Dermabakhsh, who is also displaying some of his works in an online exhibit, said that not many people show interest in buying artworks these days now that the galleries are closed.

Derambakhsh has shared a collection of his cartoons on coronavirus with his fans on Instagram. The new images bear a small note giving warnings or recommendations to people to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“I was one of the first who began to work on coronavirus and held an online exhibit. I believe these days need to be recorded, perhaps they will not be sold but I am not making them be sold. I think these days must be retained as history for future generations,” he said.

“What is important these days are the living conditions of the artists. They need to work and they do not make any money now that the galleries are closed and no one shows interest in buying artwork. This is a bad situation and we only have to wait,” he said.

Photo:  Paintings by Yaqub Emdadian are on view in an exhibition at Tehran’s Hur Gallery in January 2020. (Honaronline/Mahdieh Babai)


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