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By Chris Lord, November 2008
From billboards to newspapers, banquet halls to shopfronts, there’s one ubiquitous selling point that adorns the streets of Tehran: ‘Ready to order’. It’s a hook that says ‘we commission, we take orders’ – it lets people know that they will have their lavishness, be it banquet or ornament, tailored to create their own token of affluence.
Or so Khosrow Hassanzadeh sees it. Inspired by the small boxes found in the tombs of martyrs and at the birthplace of martyrs, Hassanzadeh has created a collection of his own ready-to -order boxes that celebrate those who he sees as unrecognised subjects. Beginning with his mother, then himself, Hassanzadeh eventually frames Googoosh, the Persian singing diva, into one of his boxes. Rendering his subjects in cardboard, the artist then surrounds them with a vast selection of kitsch items, flashing lights, trinket statuettes, plastic flowers and other items specific to his subject. He sees these works as shrines, handmade and exaggerated celebrations of each subject that flash with a humorous half-eye look at kitsch conceptions of beauty.
B21 also presents a number of works in Hassanzadeh’s Ya Ali Madadi series, a selection of acrylic works painted directly onto silk. Taking its name from the prayer of supplication to Ali, made by Pahlavan wrestlers before a match, the works explore the heroism of these wrestlers, weaving their bodies in calligraphy and formed in deep, distinctly Persian colours.
One of Iran’s most exciting and switched on contemporary artists, this is a varied show that demonstrates Hassanzadeh’s love for and humorous take on Iranian culture.
B21 (04 340 3965), Al Quoz 1. November 11-December 11