Mahmoud Bakhshi

By his displacement of prescriptive and symbolic signs endemic to Iranian society, Mahmoud Bakhshi has built up a subversive body of work which opposes the official rhetoric. An element of humour is essential to his art, which allows him to highlight the contradictions, indeed the irrationality which he observes around him. A graduate in sculpture at the University of Fine Arts in Tehran, the young artist born in 1977 explores various mediums: sculpture, installations, but also photography and video. Art for him is about freely translating his thoughts in the most effective way possible. Yet the subject of his “origin” always informs his work, which is made up of transpositions, arrangements and collections.

Verdicts of Looking (2008) places on show, in a gloomy space lit by the intermittent glow of a glitter ball, several models wearing the hidjab. Their plastic eyes are hollowed-out and you can see pornographic videos inside them. The artist is confronting the sense of modesty imposed on the public sphere and the increasing use of mobile telephones for filming sexual intimacy. For Air Pollution of Iran (2004 -2006), the artist framed eight Iranian flags in faded colours, stained by the capital city’s pollution of the atmosphere. Referring to eight years of war against Iraq, it suggests a parallel between air pollution and violence, political assassins and the corruption that the regime attempts to conceal.

For the last ten years, his work has been the focus of both solo and collective exhibitions in Tehran, where he was born and still resides, and also abroad. He notably exhibited in London, at the Barbican Centre, at the Royal College of Art and at the Saatchi Gallery, and in Athens for the exhibition “Lion under the Rainbow”. Elsewhere he took part in the 11th Dacca Biennial in 2004 and in 2010 at the 4th Triennial in Auckland. Artist in residence at the Delfina Foundation in 2010, he brought back the same year the prestigious “Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize”.