We sat down with the creative, thought-provoking Iranian artist Tarlan Rafiee, whose vivid, mural-like pieces of art combine Iranian culture of days past with a modern-folk-art feel.
1) What are your inspirations?
Popular culture, everyday life of ordinary people, their nostalgias and their hopes.
2) How do you think contemporary art in the Middle East has changed in the past 10 years?
Art became an important platform for cultural communication between the Middle East and the rest of the world. Through our art, we are introducing our culture, our people and our ideas to the world. It is exactly the opposite of what the broadcasting medias are doing; they want to isolate us and separate us from the world and we as artists are expanding us to the world. I am talking about creating a dialogue between cultures.
3) How is the art scene in Iran?
Before the 1979 revolution, Iran was one of the most important patrons of the global art scene. Now after all those years, I believe that the art scene in Tehran is comparable, not by the scale, but by the quality, to the rest of the world.
4) What are the greatest challenges to creating art in the region? In Iran?
The most common challenge in the region is the power of religion and all the boundaries it brings. In addition to that, each country in this region has its own limitations because of the different nature of their governments. In Iran, we face both religious and political limitations, but as far as we all know, art knows no boundaries. It will find its way; underground or over-ground, art exists.
5) What do you think is the importance/value of art in the region?
Art alongside other intellectual movements are the most powerful mediums we have to provoke intercultural communication. To show the rest of the world that we are much more than just a historical area; more than just carpets, oil, pistachios, archaeological sites. We are all of that as well as a rich culture with both historical and contemporary things to share.
For more information: Tarlan Rafiee on Facebook