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Left: Nazgol Ansarinia, Pillars: Article 47, 2015

Right: Alireza Dayani, Untitled from the Metamorphosis series, 2009

Installation view at Asia Society Museum, 2021

Courtesy of Mohammed Afkhami Foundation

Photograph © Bruce M. White, 2021, Courtesy of Asia Society


Presented by Asia Society Museum, Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians—The Mohammed Afkhami Collection is 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.

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.

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