Iran Art Now showcases works by nine internationally recognized and emerging Iranian artists at Ethan Cohen New York from October 24 through December 31, 2013. As the gallery’s first foray into Contemporary Iranian art, the exhibition illuminates the development and breadth of the art form from 1979 until the present, a subject that has gathered increasing urgency with widespread museum and gallery exhibitions in Europe and the United States. Iran Art Now displays the unexpected diversity of artistic expression now proliferating in Iran, showing the revitalizing penetration of global ideas into a culture presumed to be forcibly insulated.

Iran Art Now explores the paradox of vigorous creativity flourishing despite or because of the prevailing conditions of censorship, intermittently more and less restrictive depending on the political mood of the day. This show captures the febrile intensity that grows out of perpetual cycles of uncertainty. To the practiced eye, the subtexts of Iranian art are familiar. They can be read as a series of tensions: the tension between the modern and revered traditions of artistic craftsmanship going back to antiquity, the tension between the transgressive and the permitted, the tension between the explicit and the suggestive. Iran remains a society of hints, of literally veiled expressions, of meanings hidden in the margins that bleed into the center. Issues that might be openly addressed in the west are not ignored; instead they are encrypted for the viewer to decipher. As a result, the artwork always acts as a mirror to the viewer’s imagination, which is the very basis of abstraction. Surrealism, subtlety and faux innocence are the strategies of encoding, essential in guaranteeing the Iranians’ freedom of expression.

Although the subjects of the representational works vary widely, they frequently address the interplay between traditional Iranian cultural heritage and contemporary expression, showing great depth of diverse talent and mastery of different art practices. The quality of the work is exquisite, enabling many of these artists to establish a strong foothold in a now globalized art market. The goal of Iran Art Now is to open the door to understanding how global issues inform Contemporary Iranian Art.

The artists included in the exhibition are Alireza Adambakan, Bahman Mohammadi, Mehdi Mirbagheri, Rezvan Sadeghzadeh, Sassan Gharehdaghloo, Sara Abbasian, Arash Fesharaki, Parviz Kalantari, and Nargess Hashemi.