Asia Society Museum Presents Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians—The Mohammed Afkhami Collection

Asia Society Museum presents Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians—The Mohammed Afkhami Collection, an exhibition of works by more than 20 Iranian-born artists and one German-born artist, reflecting a dynamic and thriving contemporary arts scene. The exhibition, illuminating the multifaceted experiences and identities of artists spanning three generations who are working inside and outside of Iran, probes subjects such as gender identity, war and peace, politics and religion, and spirituality.

Drawing from the collection of financier and philanthropist Mohammed Afkhami, the exhibition comprises paintings, sculptures, photographs, and videos. Of the 23 participating artists, over a third live in Iran, over a third live outside of Iran, and five live in New York City. These established, mid-career, and emerging artists are working from unique vantage points, informed by a rich cultural heritage as well as more recent extensive social and political unrest in Iran. Referencing “contemporary Persians,” the exhibition’s title evokes an ancient culture that is still very much alive today.              

This is the exhibition’s first presentation on the East Coast of the United States, following its premiere in 2017 at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, and subsequent showing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The exhibition is on view at Asia Society Museum from September 10, 2021 to May 8, 2022.

Independent curator and scholar Dr. Fereshteh Daftari is the curator for Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians—The Mohammed Afkhami Collection. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Daftari and Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak and with a preface by Mohammed Afkhami. The catalogue was published by the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, and Black Dog Publishing Limited, London.

Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians—The Mohammed Afkhami Collection continues Asia Society’s ongoing commitment to showcasing the vibrant arts and culture of Iran, from historic shows of the Safavid and Sasanian empires, to the Iran Modern exhibition of 2013–14, to monographic presentations of contemporary artists.

Artists in the exhibition
Shiva Ahmadi (Born in 1975 in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in the Bay Area, California, U.S.)
Morteza Ahmadvand (Born 1981 in Khorramabad, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran, Iran)
Shirin Aliabadi (Born 1973 in Tehran, Iran; Died 2018 in Tehran, Iran)
Afruz Amighi (Born 1974 in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in New York, U.S.)
Nazgol Ansarinia (Born 1979 in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran, Iran)
Mahmoud Bakhshi (Born 1977 in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran, Iran)
Ali Banisadr (Born 1976 in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in New York, U.S.)
Alireza Dayani (Born 1982 in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran, Iran)
Mohammed Ehsai (Born 1939 in Qazvin, Iran. Lives and works in Vancouver, Canada)
Monir Farmanfarmaian (Born 1922 in Qazvin, Iran; Died 2019 in Tehran, Iran)
Parastou Forouhar (Born 1962 in Tehran, Iran; lives and works in Germany)
Shadi Ghadirian (Born 1974 in Tehran, Iran; lives and works in Tehran, Iran)
Rokni Haerizadeh (Born 1978 in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in Dubai, U.A.E.)
Khosrow Hassanzadeh (Born 1963 in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran, Iran, and London, U.K.)
Shirazeh Houshiary (Born 1955 in Shiraz, Iran. Lives and works in London, U.K.)
Y.Z. Kami (Born in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in New York, U.S.)
Abbas Kiarostami (Born in Tehran, 1940; Died 2016 in Paris, France)
Farhad Moshiri (Born 1963 in Shiraz, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran, Iran, and Paris, France)
Timo Nasseri (Born 1972 in Berlin, Germany. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany)
Shirin Neshat (Born 1957 in Qazvin, Iran. Lives and works in New York, U.S.)
Shahpour Pouyan (Born 1977 in Isfahan, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran, Iran, and New York, U.S.)
Hamed Sahihi (Born 1980 in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran, Iran)
Parviz Tanavoli (Born 1937 in Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran, Iran, and Vancouver, Canada)

Support for Asia Society Museum is provided by Asia Society Global Council on Asian Arts and Culture, Asia Society Friends of Asian Arts, Arthur Ross Foundation, Sheryl and Charles R. Kaye Endowment for Contemporary Art Exhibitions, Hazen Polsky Foundation, Mary Griggs Burke Fund, Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and New York State Council on the Arts.

About Asia Society Museum 
Asia Society Museum presents a wide range of traditional, modern, and contemporary exhibitions of Asian art and Asian American art, taking new approaches to familiar masterpieces and introducing under-recognized arts and artists. The Asia Society Museum Collection comprises a traditional art collection, including the initial bequests of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd, and a contemporary art collection. Through exhibitions and public programs, Asia Society provides a forum for the issues and viewpoints reflected in both traditional and contemporary Asian art, and in Asia today.

Founded in 1956, Asia Society is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, educational institution based in New York with state-of-the-art cultural centers and gallery spaces in Hong Kong and Houston, and offices throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Asia Society Museum is located at 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York City. For hours and admission information, visit AsiaSociety.org/NY. Follow us on Instagram @AsiaSociety, and on Facebook and Twitter @AsiaSocietyNY.

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