Encompassing several bodies of work created over decades, this mid-career survey focuses on Moshiri’s varied subject matter, deft use of language, and wide-ranging materials and methods. While Moshiri addresses contemporary Iran’s traditions and historic isolationism, he simultaneously acknowledges the powerful appeal and influence of Western culture in his homeland. Moshiri spent a portion of his formative years in the United States during the Iranian Revolution, returning to Iran years later as a young adult and artist.
Moshiri’s interest in kitsch resonates throughout his work. Many of his visuals are pulled from cartoons, films, comic strips, children’s books, and advertisements, and phrases appropriated from classical poetry, soap operas, and pop songs blur the lines between art and cliché. By selecting ambiguous source images that reference both American and Iranian popular culture, Moshiri’s work takes a complex look at how we define our own cultural identity.
The artist transforms mundane items such as glass beads, acrylic paint, crystals, knives, and machine-made Persian rugs into intricate, laborious works of art. While they function as a response to modern Iranian society, they are also familiar to most Western viewers. Originally commissioned as a window display, Once Upon a Time (2011) resembles a lush white layer cake with frosted borders and decorative toppings. Close inspection also reveals the elaborate beadwork used to construct a menagerie of images sourced from vintage postcards: sweethearts in love, domesticated animals, and exotic flower arrangements.
The exhibition brings together paintings and sculptures that have never been displayed together, many of which are traveling to the US for the first time. Farhad Moshiri: Go West reveals the artist’s evolution as both a painter and a sculptor.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.