Khosrow Hassanzadeh obituary


Even after the Iranian revolution of 1979, the western pop artwork collected by Farah, the final shah’s spouse, remained on present on the Tehran Museum of Up to date Artwork. Works equivalent to these by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein impressed a technology of artists, amongst them Khosrow Hassanzadeh, who has died aged 59 of alcohol poisioning after consuming bootleg arak.

The place these artworks depicted folks equivalent to Marilyn Monroe and Mick Jagger, Hassanzadeh as a substitute paid homage to greats held pricey by working-class Iranians.

His Pahlavan sequence from the early 2000s is a typical mixture of kitsch and pathos: silkscreen prints based mostly on historic images of pahlavans, or wrestlers, that Hassanzadeh discovered within the images outlets of south Tehran. Their hammy poses however nonetheless spectacular physiques are rendered in brilliant, contrasting colors – subtly political, the artworks are a meditation on fashionable masculinity and nationwide resilience.

Referring to the Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980, the artist mentioned: “The warfare itself was based mostly on a selected sense of manhood.”

He would later use photographs of wrestlers in quite a lot of media, together with a bricolage portrait, exhibited on the British Museum in 2009, of Gholamreza Takhti, one of many best within the sport, surrounded by symbols of Shia Islam, peacock feathers and fairy lights, and offered in a box-frame shrine.

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Terrorist: Khosrow – the artist’s silkscreen and acrylic portrait of himself from the Terrorist sequence, 2003. {Photograph}: Aly Manji

Whereas Iran’s turbulent historical past, which performed an integral half to Hassanzadeh’s personal life, was a function of his apply, a lot of his work poked enjoyable at western preconceptions. A sequence of drawings, Chador (2001), croquis in fashion, imagines girls in veils of intricately patterned and colored designs, enjoying with orientalist concepts of femininity and subjugation.

His Terrorist sequence is extra pointed. Made for a 2005 exhibition on the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, over a number of enormous silkscreens the artist portrayed himself and feminine kinfolk as terrorists, photographed in opposition to a backdrop of Qur’anic calligraphy, shrines and spiritual banners.

“It’s a reflection of a world the place the phrase ‘terrorist’ is thrown about thoughtlessly … the west, with its private definition of terrorism, provides itself the proper to take over a rustic,” he mentioned. “In exploring these questions, I portrayed the folks in whom I’ve essentially the most religion: my mom and sisters.”

Born in Tehran, Khosrow was the son of Najibeh Barazadeh and Zolfaghar Hassanzadeh, Iranian Azerbaijanis initially from the countryside who opened a fruit store within the metropolis. The revolution occurred when Khosrow was 16, and he dropped out of faculty to hitch the basij, an area militia that ensured the “morality” of neighbours. He was later conscripted to combat within the warfare, however his commanders realised they may make propaganda use of his creative skills, and Hassanzadeh was tasked with portray portraits of the Iranian troopers who had died, posters of which have been then distributed throughout the nation.

He would say that this saved him from becoming a member of the slain he was depicting. “Based mostly on my background, I ought to have been a bazaar service provider or a drug supplier.”

As a substitute, returning to promoting fruit after the warfare led to 1988, he began portray on the cardboard bins the recent produce got here in. His earliest works have been drawings of family and friends executed on brown paper baggage, a course of he later characterised as “glamorising the nugatory”.

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Ghomlamreza Takhti, a bricolage portrait of the world champion wrestler of the Nineteen Fifties and 60s by Khosrow Hassanzadeh, exhibited on the British Museum in 2009. {Photograph}: Property of Khosrow Hassanzadeh

In 1989, Hassanzadeh enrolled on the school of portray of the Mojtama-e-Honar College, Tehran. “The revolution made a possibility for me. Earlier than, it was solely the wealthy who might go overseas to review artwork. It opened issues up, in that means,” he advised the Guardian in 2021.

Whereas Iran’s artists have been usually plucked from the western-facing elite, the younger man relished his outsider standing. “The opposite college students have been shocked {that a} man who regarded like me had walked in,” he mentioned. “They thought I got here to raid the place.”

He had two native exhibitions, at Barg gallery in 1991 and Djamshidieh gallery in 1994, however took a break to review Persian literature at Azad College within the capital, whereas, in 1996, secretly attending a clandestine artwork college organised by the artist Aydin Aghdashloo for 2 years.

The latter’s surrealism may be learn as an affect on Hassanzadeh’s Conflict sequence, nightmarish black-and-white drawings that includes figures in fuel masks and physique baggage. These received him worldwide consideration after they have been proven in 1999 on the Diorama Arts Centre in London.

Now that he had the eye of non-Iranians, whose footage “are sometimes to do with how east and west see each other”, he mentioned, Hassanzadeh pivoted to deal with points of faith and custom, producing Ashura (2000), work that function the feminine saints of Shia Islam, and Prostitutes (2002), a haunting tribute to 16 girls killed by a spiritual extremist, proven at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, as a part of the exhibition Far Close to Distance. In 2006 he offered his first retrospective on the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and three years later he was nominated for the Victoria & Albert museum’s Jameel prize.

His work was included in Epic Iran on the V&A (2021) and final 12 months he had a solo present at Vida Heydari Up to date in Pune, the place he explored India and Iran’s shared historical past of poetry by a sequence of pastel and ink works.

Hassanzadeh was married twice, first to Ashraf Mehmandoost, with whom he had two kids, Nadia and Yashar, after which to Eugenie Dolberg, with whom he additionally had two kids, Xenia and Inez. Each marriages led to divorce.

He’s survived by his associate, Shahrzad Afrashteh, his kids, and by a sister, Azima, and brother, Arshad.


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