Tower by Baktash Sarang

To succeed in today’s art world, artists have to aggressively market themselves, cater to the demands of the art market and avoid criticism of those in power. But there are some artists who ignore the hype, the market trends and the political climate to single-mindedly and fearlessly pursue their passion for art.

Iranian artist, writer and curator Fereydoun Avé has brought together works by 33 such artists from Iran in an exhibition titled “Fearless: the next wave of artists from Iran”. The exhibition is running simultaneously in Dubai and three galleries in Tehran.

The artists include Sara Abbasian, Sasan Abri, Nasser Bakhshi, Reza Bangiz, Afshan Daneshvar, Habib Farajabadi, Soussan Farjam, Nariman Farokhi, Farhad Gavzan, Kasra Golrang, Mohammad Hossein Golamzadeh, Vahid Hakim, Hadi Hazavi, Mehrdad Jafari, Ebrahim Kadem-Bayat, Nogol Mazloumi, Arsia Moghadam, Amir Mohammadzadeh, Omid Moshksar, Kaveh Najmabadi, Zahra Navaie, Farokh Nooroney, Mehrdad Pournazarali, Sepehr Mesri, Mohammad Piraee, Ali Razavi, Ashkan Sanei, Baktash Sarang, Sadegh Sadeghipour, Sharvin Shahrokh, Parissa Tayebi, Mohammad Reza Yazdi and Hossein Ali Zabehi.

“The art market is like a black hole that sucks people in. But some people have learnt to live on the edge fearlessly. This show is about 33 Iranian artists who have been working regardless of the madness of the market because they are maniacally obsessed with what they do. I chose artists from various generations because there is no age for being an obsessive, courageous, lunatic working silently. In a time and space where nothing changes fundamentally, to keep working on personal visions is fearless; and to see fear as the only real censorship is to come out of the shadow. Because of their obsession with work, none of these artists have had any media or market attention, so I am glad to champion their cause,” Avé says.

The artworks range from Moghadam’s colourful impressionistic paintings and Abri’s Polaroid photographs to Farajabadi’s monochromatic abstract silkscreen works, and Yazdi’s beautifully crafted kinetic metal sculptures.

Shahrokh has transformed ordinary stones into interesting faces, and Navaie has created quirky sci-fi sculptures from pine cones, beads and dolls eyes.

Septuagenarian Hazavei presents abstract sculptures created from traditional glazed handmade bricks, while 22-year-old Mesri has researched tattoo manuals to come up with his interesting cross-cultural patterns.

Hearing impaired artist Farokhi visualises sound waves in his ink drawings, while Sadeghipour contemplates the role of books in a digital age with his witty sculptural interventions on books.

Bakhshi’s boxes, filled with a treasure trove of paintings, are suffused with nostalgia and romance, whereas Noraie’s elongated fibreglass sculptures of animals in boxes speak about captivity and extinction.

Moshkar’s pen and ink drawings depict swimmers desperately trying to save themselves from drowning; and in Gholamzadeh’s monumental sculpture, “Story of Flight”, the three fibreglass male figures seem to be caught in the cross-currents of life.

With many other quality works to contemplate, the show is a celebration of individuality, purity of purpose and being true to your instincts and passionate about what you do.

Jyoti Kalsi is an arts-enthusiast based in Dubai.

“Fearless: the next wave of artists from Iran” will run at the In Between Space at the Courtyard, Al Quoz, until April 30.