Rethinking the Contemporary Art of Iran


Dr. Hamid Keshmirshekan


April 5, 2024


Rethinking the Contemporary Art of Iran seeks to articulate an alternative narrative of Iranian art in recent times, diverging from the prevalent portrayals often found in publications derived from exhibitions or collections in Western Europe and North America. It also steers away from the prevailing trend-setting schemes within the art world, particularly those attempting to “define” what qualifies as “contemporary Iranian art.” Its primary aim is to portray the contemporary art of Iran, embracing a diverse range of cultural expressions, each contributing to a vibrant mosaic that represents the multifaceted realities of the country – realities frequently overlooked in recent publications. The book highlights how this richness finds its most vivid expression in the works of emerging artists from both Iran and its diaspora over the past few decades. It comprises essays that aim to provide multiple perspectives on contemporaneity, plurality and historical context, offering extensive insights into contemporary art practices both within Iran and among the diasporas. The other section of the book encompasses works by artists, accompanied by texts elaborating on their oeuvre and the pieces depicted in the book. This section is organised into three distinct categories, “Societal and
Cultural Resonance,” “Fantastical Visions,” and “Echoes of History,” each focusing on a specific artistic approach.


Hamid Keshmirshekan is an art historian, art critic and Research Associate at the School of Arts, SOAS, University of London. He was previously Associate Fellow at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and History of Art Department at Oxford University (2004-12), Associate Professor and head of the History of Art department at the Advanced Research Institute of Art (ARIA), Iranian Academy of Arts (2013-17), Research Associate at the London Middle East Institute (2013-19), and Chief Editor of the quarterly Art Tomorrow – the bilingual (English-Persian) journal on modern and contemporary art of the Middle East and its diaspora (2009-13). He received his PhD in the History of Art from SOAS, University of London in 2004 and was postdoctoral fellow at KRC, Oxford University (2004-5; 2008-9; 2011-13) supported by the British Academy, AHRC and ESRC. Since 1994 he has taught art history and theory in British and Iranian universities, has organised several international conferences and events on aspects of the modern and contemporary art of Iran and the MENA region, and has contributed extensively to various publications. His latest publications include The Art of Iran in the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries: Tracing the Modern and the Contemporary (2023); “Humorous Art Practices in the Contemporary Middle East: Reacting to Cultural Stereotypification,” (forthcoming, 2024), and Contemporary Art from the Middle East: Regional Interactions with Global Art Discourses (ed.) (2015).