06 December, 2017 | Share Article
In 1967, we opened the 29 club in Rasht Street, but later, we closed the club because we were very busy.
Sahar Azad: Parviz Tanavoli was so busy in recent months. In July of this year, an exhibition entitled "Parviz Tanavoli and Iranian Lions" was held at all galleries of Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. Also in November of the same year “Parviz Tanavoli and Niavaran studio” exhibition in the Boom Gallery featured a collection of "Hich", "poet", "wall", "hand", "cage and lovers", and "walls" Exhibited. In an exhibition held at the Tehran museum of contemporary arts, not only his artworks were shown with the name of “Lions”, but also by displaying the private collection of this sculptor and borrowing some other artworks from collections and other museums, the presence of lion in Iranian culture was examined. Two months after closing ceremony of the "Lions" exhibition, another exhibition of Tanavli was held at the Boom Gallery, with the difference that the artworks of his students were exhibited at the exhibition as well. Of course, this is not the first time that the artworks of Tanavoli’s students have been shown. In the recent exhibition, the artworks of Tanavoli’s students have been shown alongside his artworks, an issue that in his view reflects the relationship between the teacher and the master, and these days we see less such a relationship between the masters and the students. Another topic, which is related to Tanavoli is the "Rasht 29 club", which was set up before the revolution, and later closed due to the occupation of its owner. However, in November of this year, a number of artworks by the club's artists were displayed in a private show, which may trigger a local set-up for the reunion of visual artists. Tanavoli was born in 1937 and is on the eve of the eighth decade of his life. One of his efforts in recent years was the reopening of his museum; a museum in which he and the municipality were struggling with his artworks, but as Tanavoli says, the reopening of the museum depends on how they can present the artworks that are currently available to the municipality. All this prompted the "Jame’ye-farda" to come to Tanavoli and talk to him about his activities in these days:
In the past few months, with the establishment of the "Iranian Lions" exhibition at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, an exhibition at the Boom Gallery and attendance at a group event dedicated to the "Rasht 29 club", your activity seems to have increased in advance. Were these events planned or accidentally happened behind each other?
The "Lions" exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Arts has been planned from many years ago, because it was not an exhibition that could be collected and prepared for a month or in a year. It took about five, six years to prepare this exhibition. The “lions”, which are presented in museum of contemporary art, were collected during 40\50 years. I collect and present everything that was related with lion and in some way our culture, to show the relation between relationship past and my artworks. For this reason, the exhibition consisted of various materials such as ceramics, bronze, iron, paintings, etc., and was very diverse. The exhibition reviewed five thousand years of historical trends and the role of lion in our culture. We had to borrow works from a variety of collections, such as the National Museum, Reza Abbasi Museum, private collections of interior and exterior, to keep track of the history of Lion. It was a pity that people would not be aware that lions played a significant role in their religion and beliefs. For example, people saw Imam Ali’s lion, but they could not communicate with the rest of the material and cultures that were in this country. For this reason, it was necessary to communicate Lion with other part of our culture. I have done this over the years and I hope that I have been successful. I think I have been successful because I realized that people find the relations very fast. Also in Boom gallery exhibition, some artworks, which were belong to this gallery were presented. A collector opened the Boom gallery and his goal was not only money, but was to display the artworks of the pioneering artists and has so far arranged many exhibitions. The Boom gallery usually displays artworks that belong to their own collection. In my exhibition, the owner of the Boom gallery bought my artworks from me myself or from different auctions and in my opinion, he has been able to provide a comprehensive collection of my artworks. When I was offered to hold an exhibition of my artworks in this gallery, I decided to show my student’s artwork alongside my sculptures. Mona Pod, Ramin Jamshidi, Horad Gorji and Alireza Masoumi are four of my best assistants, each of whom was accompanied by me at my workshop in Niavaran, about 8 to 10 years. I would like to show their artworks at this exhibition; therefore, I invite them to attend this event. The reason why I asked these assistants to show their works alongside my work is the attention to the good relationship between a master and a student, which has a bilateral relationship and influences on both sides, because it is important in the development of the students and the works of the professor. The relationship between the master and the student is after a while like the relationship of a family member. In fact, the relationship between the master and the student is such that after a while they will be aware from each other’s mood. Of course, these days there is less such a relationship between the master and the student but I wish that the relationship that existed in the past would be preserved, and they worked together until students became masters. The “Rasht 29 club” was a group exhibition. Painters, who attended the Rasht Club at that time, presented their artworks along with a number of contemporary young painters. It is likely that the proceeds from the sale of these artworks will be spent on the restoration and of a club in order to gather artists. Of course, I were not involved in the planning of this club, and I only participated in its opening.
Apart from the Lions, collecting or creating artworks that have Iranian atmosphere and are tied to the Saghakhane style, covering some parts of your activities. What impact did the movement have on our culture during that period?
At that time, there were some thoughts among artists who used homeland and patriotic materials instead of western themes. This thought was about to focus on our subjects, beliefs, prayers, spells and calligraphy. Each of the artists was busy with their work, and neither of us was underneath a ceiling, but there were thoughts based on using our own subjects and soon, caused a small group of no more than 6.5 people to pay attention to this issue.
The exhibits at the Boom Gallery featured four of your students along with your work. During these years, other exhibitions have also been created from the works of your students. Considering your relationship with young sculptors, what is your opinion about young generation?
Our sculptures are growing day by day, and I especially wanted to display examples of our country's Sculpture at the same time as my works, so that their artworks can be seen by people and visitors, and they will understand how much our sculpture is in progress. Our sculpture does not have much life, especially modern sculpture that starts with me and does not last for 60-50 years, but in short term it has been stunning and progressively flourishing. Through the courses I have, I trained many students over the years and have seen many talents. For this occasion, whenever possible, I would like to show a sample of my student’s artworks, along with my own artworks.
Before the revolution, with Kamran Diba and Roxana Saba, you set up a local "Rasht 29 club". How did you think about launching such a place and what was its impact?
When we founded the "Rasht 29 Club ", Café Naderi was the center of the hangout of poets and writers, but the fact was that the painters did not have a place for themselves to be like a rare cafe for their time to get together. Sometimes they came to my studio, gathered and talked. At that time, we thought of establishing a club with Kamran Diba to have such a place for ourselves. We did not have a cafe and we could not create a cafe for the public, so we thought to make it almost private, where the artists can eat lunch and dinner, see each other and have something like a hangout to communicate with each other in this way. All the guilds at that time have a place to hang out. Each of them had a cafe as a hangout where they gathered and even received their orders there. As a result, we thought that we should create a central place for painters to gather. Above the Polytechnic University in Rasht, we rented and renovated the building, replaced the windows and doors, and put some paintings on the walls. In the form of a private club, lunch and dinner were served, and we issued cards for painters, musicians, theaters, filmmakers and a number of collectors who were involved. The club lasted about three years. It was opened in 1966, but later, because we were very busy those days, decided to close the club but the reflection of the work done at the club remained in memories until recently, several articles were written in the journals of New York and some other places about it. It was written in these articles that in Tehran at that time, it was an active club that is not even present in other capitals of the world until now. In this club, artists gathered, met each other, ate lunch and dinner, or there were other side programs such as the auction of works. We had a variety of programs, such as the night of poetry and musical performances at the club, which made the club turn into an artistic collection, and although it was small, it remained in the memory of many. Recently, Ms. Simin Dehghani and Elham Pooryamehr decided to step up and revive the club because today there are also few institutions for artists. Ms. Simin Dehghani bought a building in the city centre that is under reconstruction and she wants to hold an exhibition to commemorate that period. A short video about that club is also available. In fact, I have not played any role in rebuilding this club. I only have a little bit of cooperation with these friends.
As you yourself have said, the gathering of artists or the creation of hangouts to talk and associate with them has less existed in our society. Is it necessary to do this, or how much such hangouts will affect art flows?
In foreign countries, near art schools, art academies and artistic district, there are cafeterias where artists come together and see each other, eating lunch, dinner or coffee, chatting and getting to know each other. These cafeterias usually become expensive tourist sites after a while. When it comes to finding the district in which artists gather, the tourist likes to visit them. However, such places have artistic backgrounds, art panels and posters of exhibitions on the walls, cultural news about museums and exhibitions, and all this is attractive for people and tourists. We do not have such places in Tehran. We have no artistic districts and our programs are scattered. I hope that our city centres will do this in the coming years. Currently, galleries are moving to the centre of Tehran and more cafes have been opened. A centrality is taking shape. When this centre came into being, there would be a good club if visual artists, painters, sculptors, graphics and photographers were to come together and see each other. I hope Ms. Dehghani and her husband will succeed in doing this.
Another topic you have been involved with for years is the museum and the status of your statues. You have just said that you are determined to take your art from the municipality. During the presidency of Ahmadinejad, the museum was stopped. What is the status of the museum now? Do not have any administrative and licensing problems and you are just wait for the artworks?
The museum is no longer a state and not a municipality, but it belongs to my family and myself. We have all the necessary permissions, but there are not enough artworks in it, and I am waiting for the museum's artworks to be returned. My sculptures were born in that house and workshop. The museum was in the hands of Mr. Malek Madani, and the works were shown, but after that, Mr. Ahmadinejad closed it and some of the artworks were transferred to the municipality's warehouses. We have been discussing the recapture of works for 10-15 years. These artworks remained in the municipality and should be returned to me. As soon as the works are returned, we will reopen the museum.
One or two years ago, number of your artworks were damaged while moving from your home to the municipality. What will happened to them?
Many of them have been damaged and many are broken. The municipality has not published any report about the status of my artworks and I do not know the conditions of keeping them. I have seen some of the artworks, which were destroyed. I was very upset when I saw the damage done to the works that I put a lot of trouble on. Some of my friends, who have access to these artworks, tell me that some of them are damaged, but I have to take back whatever remain and for the rest of them I should just keep waiting and see what will happen. However, as long as the restoration status is not clear, I cannot say what my artwork’s situation is.