Shehr O Funn

Shahpour Pouyan

After “Firdausi’s Parable of the Ship of Shi’ism,” 2018
Mixed media on Hahnemühle Cotton Paper, 470 x 318 mm

After “​Noah’s ark​,” 2018
Mixed media on Hahnemühle Cotton Paper, 423 × 326 mm

After ​“Alexander Crossing a River,” 2018
Mixed media on Hahnemühle Cotton Paper, 339 x 215 mm

Shahpour Pouyan (b. 1979, Isfahan, Iran) lives and works between New York and Tehran.
Pouyan makes use of traditional Persian aesthetics, but he updates the miniatures to interrogate enduring notions of fate and destiny by superimposing the past upon the present. Works exhibited at LB01 make use of Islamic symbolism where ships represents destiny and the adventure of life. Water, a sacred element, represents clarity and purification, and in the Persian miniature tradition, it is always rendered in silver paint. However, the fate of silver is to oxidize into darkness. In these miniatures, Pouyan renders the original miniature in its current, degraded condition while removing all human figures, creating an eerie, post-apocalyptic scene. The abandoned ships appear lost and adrift on a dark sea, and echo familiar contemporary images of refugee lifeboats and black oil slicks. These paintings register the passage of time, and invite a new metaphorical reading that suggests the uncertainty and fear of the impending future.
Pouyan has a MFA in Integrated Practices and New Forms from Pratt Institute, New York, and an MFA in Painting from the Tehran University of Art. Recent solo exhibitions include Wūshuǐ, Copperfield, London (2018); The Incarnation of the Body Politic, The Armory Show, New York City (2018). Recent group exhibitions include Punk Orientalism, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Canada (2018); White Anxieties, WhiteBox, New York City (2018); Only the Morning Bird Treasures the Flower Garden, REDCAT, Los Angeles (2018); In the Field of Empty Days: the intersection of past and present in Iranian art, LACMA, Los Angeles (2018); The New Minimalists, Abrons Art Center, New York (2018); Art Dubai Contemporary, with Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai (2018).

Lahore Biennale Foundation