LEIGHTON HOUSE MUSEUM
CURATED BY ROSE ISSA PROJECTS
This is the first solo show in the UK of the outstanding photographer, installation- and multi-media artist Parastou Forouhar. She was born in 1962 in Teheran, and since 1991 has lived in Germany. Her work is a response to the dramatic social changes that she witnessed after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and her subsequent experience of displacement on arriving in Europe. More recently, a profound and terrible influence was the politically motivated murder of her parents in Teheran in 1998.
Forouhar’s imagery is surprisingly witty, occasionally dark and often humorously macabre. For example, the installation “The Funeral” is a set of office chairs covered in a popular folk material sold in Teheran’s street markets for Ashura, the annual Shi'ite ceremony that mourns the martyrdom of Imam Hossein in the seventh century. Originally these printed shrouds came in symbolic, plain shades, but today they are printed in day-glo colours for an interesting blend of religion with pop culture. Standing empty in a room, they commemorate the deceased victims who once sat in them. “Eslimi” (“Ornaments”) is a fabric pattern-book of deceptive charm. Look closer and we see the patterns are composed of instruments of torture such as whips, knives, needles, knuckledusters and pistols – elements that reappear in the mesmerising Digital Drawings, which seem decorative from afar, but are actually kaleidoscopic patterns of gruesome objects and events. The series, “Signs” plays on the imagery of road and traffic signs to express the battle of the sexes in Iran: for women, there is “no entry” and “access denied”, while men enjoy “right of way”. Individually and together, the works are startling, thought-provoking, and disturbingly attractive.
A monography on Parastou Forouhar is published by Saqi Books to acompany the exhibition. Click here to browse through the book.
Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, London W14 (020 7602 3316)
Open daily 10am to 5.30pm, closed Tuesdays.
Admission £5 to include membership and free access to Leighton House for one year
For more information click here