LONDON — Last year’s deadly protests in Iran over the death in police custody of a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, have cast a pall over the country’s vibrant art scene, with many galleries in Tehran temporarily shuttered amid fears of drawing the ire of protestors and authorities alike.
Even as they reopen, business remains shaky and gallerists continue to seek ways to sell works in overseas markets, notably in London and Dubai, in order to stay afloat. A slew of fresh US sanctions in 2019 under then-President Donald Trump had already dealt a blow together with a saturated market for Iranian art. The Iranian government does little if anything to promote its own, viewing artists with suspicion in the best of times.
In this challenging atmosphere, Iranian artist Bita Ghezelayagh is making a name through her exhilarating fusion of ancient Iranian crafts with universal themes of rebellion, hope and alienation that are permanently displayed in the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Jameel Foundation in Saudi Arabia and other signature venues worldwide.
Her most recent work, which fronted “The Resistance of Pen and Paper” — an all-star exhibition at the blue-chip Richard Saltoun Gallery in Mayfair, London — targets censorship in her home country.