Political artist embraces kitsch

Googoosh brightens up B21 Gallery (SUPPLIED)

By Staff Writer on Saturday, November 29, 2008

Contemporary artist Khosrow Hassanzadeh returns to the UAE with two ambitious new bodies of work, on show at Dubai’s B21 Gallery.Ready to Order is a collection of kitschy three dimensional large-scale boxes; imagine busy window displays with ornate gilded frames. At the centre of each, individuals both famous and unknown are immortalised with cardboard likenesses, positioned proudly and surrounded by their typical universe of objects – statuettes, tools of trade, family photographs and glittery ornamentation in a play of flashing lights, garlands and plastic foliage. But Ready to Order travels beyond mere kitsch: It can not only be interpreted as a gross parody of Iranian society and its aesthetics but also as an earnest effort to raise the craft of the unrefined artisan to the high street. One remarkable example features the legendary singer Googoosh appearing from behind a beaded curtain, in diamond tiara and bejewelled belt, framed by fake flowers and blue lights. The series Ya Ali Madadi is inspired by traditional Iranian pahlvan [wrestler] and is executed with highly-charged acrylic colours and silkscreen on canvas. One key piece features them holding each other’s hands surrounded by a dervish, a court intellectual, a general and a mullah. Iranian artist Hassanzadeh has a reputation across the Middle East for embracing political themes or issues considered sensitive in Iranian society. He first gained international recognition with War, a grim diary of his experiences as a volunteer soldier during the Iran-Iraq war.