"Gates of Turan" - beginning of most exciting journey of my life
    Modern artist on his desire of being, creating in Land of Fire

    INTERVIEWS  14 March 2023 - 15:53

    Sadyar Aliyev

    Today we are talking to prominent Iranian artist in exile Firouz FarmanFarmaian. He is currently based in Greece, but travels around the world in the search of new artistic ideas and impressions.

    Ukrainian arts critic Alla Parkhomenko once said about Firouz FarmanFarmaian's work: "His painting is like meditation. A very original artist who skillfully combines a connection with ancestral roots and a cosmic, epochal vision of the world, the universe. This is evidenced by historical references and the scrupulously written authenticity of the characters described. The colour saturation is high, the palette is bright, which allows to reduce the emotional load of the viewer.

    It is noteworthy that in his paintings, the master provides rich food for thought, so that everyone can interpret the work in their own way. It is this ability that gives the right to call Firuz FamanFarmaian multifaceted artist, a brilliant performer". It is worth mentioning that Alla Parkhomenko is also an exile from Ukraine and temporarily based in the UK, due to unbearable conditions in her hometown Mykolaiv.

    Significantly, Firouz FarmanFarmaian is the great-nephew of the Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (1922-2019), who exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1958, where she was awarded a Gold Medal for her work. As an exile from Iran’s 1979 Revolution, Firouz’s life in Europe and North Africa profoundly influenced his socially engaged practice. History, identity, the immaterial substance of memory and the post-tribal inform his work. He seeks to actively engage in bridging dialogues between past and future, East and West, as well as craft and technology. His socially engaged practice of immersion within tribal and nomadic cultures from North Africa to Central Asia underpins his retrofuturist sensibilities and ecological preservationism. His practice possesses spontaneous energy alongside a deeply symbolic quality that interrogates a multiplicity of currents in post-tribalism, ethnogenesis, politics and philosophy.

    We decided to ask Firouz FarmanFarmaian about his life, art and Gates of Turan project

    - Can you tell more about yourself?

    - I was born on January 4th 1973 in Tehran Iran into the FarmanFarmaian family. My great grandfather was Shazdeh Abdol Hossein FarmanFarma - one of the most prominent Qajar princes, and most influential politicians of his time governing in turn Tehran and multiple regions, Sitting as Minister of War, Interior and Prime Minister. After the fall of the Qajar dynasty and the crowning of the second Pahlavi Shah following the second world war, My Grandfather Abdol Aziz Farmanfarmaian rose as the most influential architect of his time serving the Shahs' modernist agenda. When the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 erupted the whole FarmanFarmaian family was blacklisted as much for their aristocratic background as for their loyalty to the crown.  My grandfather took his loyalty to the grave and we never returned to the homeland to this day.


    - What about your professional education, how you decided to become an artist - was this decision from your childhood or it came much later?

    - From the outset, I was singled out as being able with my line - a creative boy with an outgoing nature. Passed my baccalauréat in Saint Martin de France boarding school North of Paris with straight As in Arts and languages tutored by my grandfather. He placed great hope on my taking over the Architectural firm so de facto registered me into Paris Beaux-Arts to study Architecture. But we grew apart as 2 years later, I branched out and registered into the Penninghen graphic arts school that encouraged multi-format experimentation. I grew to better understand the nature of my capacities: it was not to be a disciplined engineer but a multidisciplinary explorative artist best at home in the conceptual realm of contemporary art. Connecting with the Parisian scene I immediately produced the first exhibitions, musical performances and avant-garde films that made the base of my first nationwide success in France.

    - Can you tell us more about your professional career? We know that your works were exhibited in many countries - the US, France, the UK, Marocco and Spain.

    - I developed my foundational Abstract Painting Series showing in multiple commercial galleries in Paris, Dubai, London and NY but slowly moved my practice to Tarifa on the southern tip of Spain. I needed to be able to cross into North Africa freely and set up a second workshop within my father's property, in Marrakech - effectively living between two continents.

    Around that time I took the decision to temporarily suspend collaborations with commercial galleries. Through the patronage of Her Majesty Farah Diba, I gained the cultural support of King Mohammad VI of Morocco. I consequently extensively researched and worked in the Kingdom developing collaborations with Berber craftswomen of the North and the Saharan South leading to the creation of Exhibition-Installations one of which - "Memorandum of the Unknown Path" at the Royal Theatre of Marrakech - came to be nominated to the V&A Jameel Prize in 2020 on the occasion of the 1-54 African Art Fair.

    That structural period formed the blueprint for what I would bring to the World stage in 2022 at the Venice Biennale with Gates of Turan. 

    - How are you related to the Kajar clan?

    - As I detailed earlier, my great-grandfather was one of the great Qajar Princes of his time. Education, Culture and Science oriented his vision: he sent his sons including my grandfather Abdol Aziz FarmanFarmaian to study abroad at the very finest schools and universities at a very young age. The name FarmanFarma is a title given as power of command from the Shah - but it is his vision of a modern and future-looking clan that singled us out - the Farmanfarmaian - from the rest of the Qajars throughout the 20th and now the 21st century. At this day I consult the Qajar Family Association on matters related to culture, and keep excellent relations with the larger tribe.

    - Are you planning to visit Azerbaijan in the nearest future?

    - I would love to. Azerbaijan is an important point in Turan. If I named Kirgizstan The Gate of Turan, then Azerbaijan is The Heart of it, The Core, The Middle of it. The land with rich cultural and historical heritage. And I would love to explore it as deeply as I can.

    - How do you measure your own success? Or maybe you don't measure it at all, dancing your life according to the will of the Creator?

    - The measure lies in the power to keep connected to one's heart, to be true in the face of adversity and trust the Creator will accompany you.


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