Dive into the Iranian art scene!

A special Interview with Iranian curator Nina Moaddel.

Nina has curated exhibitions in Europe and Asia with a focus on Iranian artists including the Tehran Pavilion at the 9th Shanghai Biennale.

Her advisory work relates to placing Iranian and Western artworks in reputable private collections as well as foundations and museums internationally including Museum of Everything, Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins and a/political. She has also collaborated with institutions worldwide including the Kunsthal Rotterdam, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, the Institute of Contemporary Arts London, the Royal Academy of Arts and the Saatchi Gallery.

We asked her a few questions...

Why do you think there has been an increase in popularity in Iranian art recently? And what is your role in promoting it?

Iranian contemporary art is constantly in dialogue with the society that surrounds and supports it. Like art in many Middle Eastern and Far Eastern societies, it invites the spectator to read visual images on several different planes, both linear and temporal.  This gives a resonance and depth that is now often lacking in Western equivalents.

I have been active since 2011 curating exhibitions abroad and placing Iranian artists’ works in Western collections to contextualise Iranian art in the global art discourse.

Assar Gallery in Tehran.

What is the young art scene like in Iran? What galleries, should we know about?

The 1979 Revolution created very different conditions for the making of art within Iran itself as well as leading to a diaspora of artists. Artists of this generation are often referred to as “children of the revolution”. These artists have become spokespeople for the country producing incredible amount of art while being mostly isolated from international buyers. There are many galleries active in Tehran. Assar, Etemad, Aaran, Iranshhar and Mohsen galleries  are some of my recommendations.

As we’ve seen in Shadi Ghadirian recent exhibition with Collectionair, the history of Iranian art is a rich pool for inspiration – Is this history very present in other young contemporary Iranian artist working today?

Before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iranian art was very much influenced by European modernism. Although these influences continued to make themselves felt after 1979, different conditions were prevalent in artmaking.

A special factor in recent Iranian art has been the debate about the position of women artists. It is perhaps surprising to find that images offered by women artists are even bolder than those offered by the men. When Westerners discover that women create a good deal of the most interesting art now being produced in Iran, the tendency is to assume, despite this, that women artists are constantly inhibited by a struggle against the conditions Iranian society imposes on them.  The truth is that Iranian art made by women does have a strongly feminist streak, but that this feminism is different from its Western equivalent. In particular, women artists living and working in Iran do not want to give up their roots in Iranian culture, and are offended to be thought of as being victims perpetually preoccupied by victimhood.

Art from Iran from 1400 to 1600 A.D.
Copyright of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s photography studio

Why should collectors invest in Iranian art today?

Iran possesses a very ancient culture, going back some three thousand years. The art of the present day has deep roots in that culture – to an extent often missed by Western observers. Tehran, the largest city in the Middle East, with a population of nearly 8 million, has a lively indigenous art world. Most of the leading Iranian artists still live in their own country, at least part of the time and are proud to do so. I believe it’s interesting for collectors to discover this untapped art hub.

Also don’t miss out Collectionair’s amazing exhibition ‘Outsider Art From Iran’.


Using our network of curators and curatorial committee we bring you exhibitions every month from new and exciting art scenes. You can easily buy, rent and swap works with other members of our art sharing community. Enjoy an interactive art world, and we’ll take care of everything else.