Veteran designer: Vaziri-Moqaddam is an international artist
By Hassan Homayoun
An expo of artworks by Mohsen Vaziri-Moqaddam, Iranian designer, painter, sculptor, art maestro and professor of Iranian contemporary art, is currently underway at Etemad Gallery. A creative artist, Vaziri-Moqaddam was born in 1924. He is a graduate of Tehran University of Art and was the dean of the university during 1966-76.
He has been described as the ‘pioneer of modern Iranian abstraction’. Between 1959 and 1960, he developed a vision of abstract art through experiments that were highly focused on materials. This eventually led to the creation of some of his most powerful works: ‘The Sand Composition Series’. These paintings were conceived in a playful moment in the spring of 1959, and for the next three years, Vaziri kept trying his hand at them, until 1963 when they were put on public display. Different types of sand were applied to the canvas in their natural state or mixed with color. This original concept grabbed the attention of some of the most prominent Italian art critics of the time, including Giulio Carlo Argan and Palma Bucarelli.
In 1964, Vaziri was at the peak of his artistic career, marked by the purchase of one of his paintings by the Modern Art Museum (MoMA) in New York.
A veteran Iranian graphic designer, Qobad Shiva was among Vaziri-Moqaddam’s students in the 60s. Commenting on his maestro, he told Iran Daily that Vaziri-Moqaddam is an international figure.
He added, “He is known worldwide as an Iranian artist. During his lifetime, he has undertaken massive efforts and experienced many sufferings and difficulties to, through his works of art which have a modern artistic expression, present Iranian culture to the world. At the age of 94, despite his senility, he, as a modern Iranian artist, is still continuing his purposeful attempts with an unbelievable energy. In the absence of his teachings and outlook on adopting a modern method of artistic expression, we were still repeating old and outdated forms.”
Excerpts of the interview follow:
IRAN DAILY: What year did you enter Tehran University of Art?
QOBAD SHIVA: I entered the university in 1961.
You, along with famous deceased Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami and Iranian-American fine art painter Nikzad Nodjoumi, were among the students of Vaziri-Moqaddam. What courses did he teach you?
I was in the middle of my third year at the university when we were told that another professor has joined the faculty of Tehran University of Art. He has recently come back to Iran from Italy. Those students who were among art lovers, were all waiting enthusiastically to meet him. He was not in charge of any certain atelier at that university and paid visits to all of them randomly to work and discuss things with students. He used to stay late at night in the atelier to teach us. His entry into the university helped change the atmosphere there. His modern teachings and methods were new and interesting to students.
How do you evaluate him as a university professor?
Given his scientific, cultural and artistic capabilities as well as love and enthusiasm for art, I believe that he has spent many years and a great deal of inexhaustible energy inside and outside Iran. He, in fact, is an international artist who has started his artistic flight from Iran. During his flight, he has experienced several difficulties and sufferings to be able to become a capable and intelligent artist. He delved into the multi-thousand-year history of art for years to be able to, eventually, find his own modern artistic expression. Despite senility, he is still making attempts with amazing energy to further develop his pure and desirable art. We are required to correctly recognize his value.
How was his attitude toward his students?
As far as I remember, he was very humble and unarrogant. He was very emotional and had a transparent character. The door of his personal atelier was always open to any of the students. He grasped each and every opportunity to teach us something generously.
What is the reason for Vaziri-Moqaddam’s importance in Iran’s contemporary art?
He is known worldwide as an Iranian artist. During his lifetime, he has undertaken great efforts and experienced many sufferings and difficulties to, through his works of art which have a modern artistic expression, present Iranian culture to the world. He has, and still is, transferring his knowledge and findings honestly, sincerely and heartily to his students. He taught effective thinking and observing as well as being purposeful to me and his students.