SOAS University of London

Brunei Gallery, SOAS University of London

Persian Steel

15 October - 12 December 2003 Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10.30 – 1700

The present exhibition is dedicated to the collection of Persian steel objects gathered over the last thirty years by the Iranian sculptor, Parviz Tanavoli. If the artistic productions of Islamic Iran remain reputed for their geometric, calligraphic, figurative and arabesque adornments, the pieces exhibited here additionally testify to a constant concern about form. It is even more striking that this keen attention to form is not exclusive to ceremonial and devotional objects, but is equally visible in the instruments and utensils of daily life as well as the tools of various trades. The artisans applied their imagination to the potential of each object they crafted, without ever impairing its function or practical qualities. It is difficult to determine the origin of this particular bias towards form, and why it manifests itself in the steel industry in Iran, and at a relatively late date (17th – 19th century). This ability to concentrate on the simplicity of lines and forms gives elegance to each item. Thus, it is easy to understand that such sculptural qualities should seduce the collector who is equally sensitive to the customs of a society which helped the iron and steel industries to blossom under the reign of the Safavids and the Qajars. 

Curated by: James Allan (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), Parviz Tanavoli and John Hollingworth (SOAS)

The exhibition is presented by the Iran Heritage Foundation in association with the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, with the support of: Asia House, British Government Indemnity, Maryam Khosrowshahi, London Middle East Institute and Sedigheh Rastegar.

A catalogue of this exhibition is available from the Gallery Book Shop in the Brunei Gallery or Probsthains Books, 41 Great Russell Street, London, priced £25.

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