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Ali Akbar Safaian

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Ali Akbar Safaian (*21st of March 1947 in Sangsar, Iran) is an Iranian painter and sculptor.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Ali Akbar Safaian was born in Sangsar, Iran. He studied fine arts at the Kamal ol-Molk Art School in Tehran. His teachers were Hossein Sheikh and the sculptor, actor and director Rafi Halati, both former students of Kamal ol-Molk, Mehdi Vishkahi and Bahram Alivandi.[1]

After completing his studies in 1970, Ali Akbar Safaian worked as an independent painter and sculptor in Tehran. His first exhibition was held at the Khane-ye Aftab art gallery in 1971, followed by collaborations with numerous other galleries. He worked particularly closely with the Seyhoun art gallery. Safaian was close friends with many writers and poets - among others with the writer Gholam-Hossein Saedi (pseudonym: Gohar Morad).[2] In 1977, he left Tehran to study art in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Italy, spending several months in each country.[3] His last stop before returning to Iran was Paris, where he lived and worked from 1979 to 1981. Since 1986 he has been living in exile in Germany.[4]

Ali Akbar Safaian is the father of the composer Arash Safaian.[5]

Works[edit | edit source]

Safaian is a representative of Iranian modern art.[6] In his work he processes poetical imaginary worlds influenced by the mystic Iranian literature as well as sociological topics such as war, rebellion and the relationship between man and machine. The creative phases of his work are all characterized by the question about the essence of things. According to Safaian, art is an attempt to "excavate existence"[7].

His paintings and sculptures, in particular from the 1970s, incorporate the metamorphosis and fusion of human, animal and organic elements. Art critic Behrouz Suresrafil allocated his work to the Iranian Surrealism art genre in the newspaper Ayandegan.[8] However, art critic "Florence" (pseudonym) challenged this categorization in another publication in the same newspaper, classifying Safaian's work as Fantastic art.[9] In his publication "90 Years of Modernity in Iranian Art" (Tehran 2016), art critic and writer Javad Mojabi comments:

"Safaian is one of the most influential artists of the 1970s. [...] I wrote an article about his debut exhibition at the Khane-ye Aftab art gallery for the Etelaat newspaper. I presented him as a young, fresh artist who nimbly expresses his wondrous phantasies. The main themes of his work are the tender relationship between man and nature. In these works humans are interlaced with flowers, plants, soil, the ocean and mountains; Humans are part of nature; they neither dominate it nor compete with it. [...] They [man and woman, author's note] become one with Mother Nature; He tells the story of her existence through gleaming and breathtaking, playful lines and layering."[10]

In Safaian's middle creative period from the 1980s, his paintings also echo sociological themes such as war, rebellion and the uprooting of humanity. Important works of this phase include the pair of paintings "War" and "Peace". Later in his career, Ali Akbar Safaian focuses on mixed media and relief works. He created the relief series "Erderbe" ["heritage of the earth"] (2004-2007) and "Erbe" ["heritage“] (2007-).[11] These works show structures ranging from seemingly organic to entirely abstract. As opposed to "Erderbe", the "Erbe" series is monochrome. In contrast to the first and middle creative period of the artist, these works do not feature any figurative means of expression.

In addition to relief, paintings, sculptures and plastics, Ali Akbar Safaian's work includes graphic prints and enamel works.

Poetry[edit | edit source]

In 2007, Ali Akbar Safaian's poetry collection "The violet lady Dragonfly" (Persian/English) was published. In 2011, a selection of his poems appeared in the German anthology "Hier ist Iran! Persische Lyrik im deutschsprachigen Raum" ["This is Iran! Persian poetry in German-speaking countries"].

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • "Ali Akbar Safaian. 2004-2006". Published by Animus in Bayreuth, Germany 2007.
  • Safaian, Ali Akbar: "Banu sanjaghak banafsh/The violet lady Dragonfly". Translated by Fereshteh Molavi. Tehran 2007: published by Pejvak Keyvan.
  • Wustmann, Gerrit (ed.): "Hier ist Iran! Persische Lyrik im deutschsprachigen Raum" ["This is Iran! Persian poetry in German-speaking countries"]. Bremen 2011, 2nd edition: published by Sujet.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hassan Mourizinejad: Contemporary artists of Iran. Ali Akbar Safaian. In: Tandis Magazine. No. 209. Teheran 2011. Link to article (farsi) as PDF: http://www.safaian.com/fileadmin/user_upload/Tandis_Safaian.pdf
  2. Saro Arakelian interviews the Iranian miniaturist Jalal Sousan-Abadhi: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=MtRnVal2WQc
  3. Tavoos Art Magazine, artist biography of Ali Akbar Safaian: http://www.tavoosonline.com/SelectedArtist/SpecialEn.aspx?src=233&Page=1
  4. Artist’s biography on the website of Ali Akbar Safaian http://www.safaian.com/vita/
  5. Artist’s biography on the website of the composer Arash Safaian http://arashsafaian.com/bio/
  6. Pakbaz, Ruin: Contemporary Art of Iran. In: Tavoos Quarterly, No. 1, Autumn 1999; Link to online article: http://www.tavoosonline.com/Articles/ArticleDetailEn.aspx?src=75&Page=1
  7. Information in german provided by the artist on his website: http://www.safaian.com/vita/
  8. Behrouz Suresrafil: Colourful Swaying Between Surrealism and Eastern Mysticism. About Ali Akbar Safaian’s exhibition at the Mehr Shah gallery. In: Ayandegan 1976. Article (farsi) as PDF: http://www.safaian.com/fileadmin/aasafaian/rIanArchiv/1976/1976-1354_AYANDEGAN_Solo_MEHRSHAH_1.pdf
  9. "Florence”: Wandering in the realm of Fantastic Art. Exhibition of Ali Akbar Safaian’s works at Khane-ye Aftab. In: Ayandegan 1976 (farsi: Bahman 1349). Article (farsi) as PDF: http://www.safaian.com/fileadmin/aasafaian/rIanArchiv/1971/1971_1349_AYANDEGAN_Solo_KHANEH%20AFTAB.pdf
  10. Javad Mojabi: “90 Years of Modernity in Iranian Art”. Vol. 2. Teheran 2016, p. 260ff. Text (farsi) as PDF: http://www.safaian.com/fileadmin/user_upload/Mojabi_90YEARSMODERNIZATION.pdf
  11. Presentation of the works "Erbe" and “Erderbe” (website of the artist) http://www.safaian.com/werk-videos/


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