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There was a time when Ramtin Zad would entertain us with his witty and playful subjects where certain motifs had come to be part of his repertoire in bold bright colours. Kebab skewers, watermelons, teapots and turquoise domes with elaborate Persian designs were interspersed with the random people who occupied his world. He seems to have left that place and headed out to nature to hang out with animals.
He has left the day and entered the night. In his ‘Nocturnal’ series, the night talks of the days. Days we have all been living through. He has forsaken the bright for the deep. He has focused on animals and in the process his random people have become more real.
But Zad’s new domain is an unpredictable one where something is lurking even in the seemingly lush and untouched. Here size is an issue both in the imposing nature and the beasts that roam and romp within it. The expanses of some northern unknown place covered in snow are brought into perspective by the jarring presence of monkeys. But it’s their dunce hats that define the scale. The explosion of rich autumnal trees, unstable in the distance, hangs over a waterfall where a man with all his might is locked paralyzed, hanging on to his trophy of a giant fish that is struggling to free itself from his clutches. Giant fir trees’ spiky needles substitute soft tinsel as they hang over a crowd of merry-makers in a masked ball.
Within this wild oversized nature, humankind is tested against the elements but mainly against himself and his own kind. Where humans are often asses, or wish to seem so for whatever reason. And there are bears, huge, angry bears fighting or are they dancing too in another corner of this mad soiree?
In this seemingly mythical place, if there is nobility it is in the animal and where there is ignobility it is amongst the humans who by turn find themselves omnipotent because of their sudden found size or by virtue of their smallness in what is being done in their name or to them. And then there are the fireworks that convey no sound. The crack of wings of a flock of doves taking off in Imam Reza’s shrine are more audible than the fireworks overhead. In Zad’s new works fireworks are a sign of silence.
Zad has now abandoned surface motifs and is diving deep within, stripping himself naked in a confessional. That he struggles, that he too struggles and is not immune to what has been on parade at the masquerade we have all been attending.
1984, Tehran, Iran
Art Diploma – Payam Moasser Tehran School, Iran
BA in Graphic from Jahad University 2007
• 2012 Etemad Gallery, Resurrection, Dubai, UAE
• 2010 Etemad Gallery, Miniature, Tehran, Iran
• 2009 Total Art Gallery, Backgammon, Dubai,U.A.E
• 2008 Etemad Gallery, Gonbad, Tehran,Iran
• 2007 Golestan Art Gallery, Tehran,Iran
. 2014 Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE
. 2013 Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE
. 2011 Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, Istanbul, Turkey
. 2011 Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE
. 2010 Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, Istanbul, Turkey
Selected Group Exhibitions:
• 2013 Paper Works, curated by Fereydoun Ave, Etemad Gallery, Dubai, UAE
• 2012 International art biennale, International Beijing museum, Beijing, China
• 2011 ”Pool”, Mohsen Gallery, Tehran,Iran
• 2011 “13X18”, Etmad Gallery,Tehran,Iran
• 2011 “1st Modern & Contemporary Visual art auction” ,Tehran, Iran
• 2010 Shirin Art Gallery, Tehran, Iran
• 2010 ”Jungle 3” Shirin Art Gallery, Tehran, Iran
• 2009 Canvas line gallery, New York,USA
• 2009 “Jungle 1” Hesabi Museum, Tehran,Iran
• 2008 Dar-al Fonoon, Kuwait
• 2008 The Nili Gallery, London
• 2008 Golestan Gallery, Tehran
• 2007 “ Collected Memories” Art Space Gallery, London
• 2007 Mah gallery, Tehran, Iran
• 2007 June Gallery, Basel,Switzerland
• 2006 “Figures & Portraits” Assar Art Gallery, Tehran
Books & Publications
. 2010 “EYE” No.28,Mahriz Pub. ,Tehran,Iran
Overview and HistoryTehran is the capital of Iran and the largest city in the Middle East, with a population of fifteen million people living under the peaks of the Alborz mountain range.Although archaeological evidence places human activity around Tehran back into the years 6000BC, the city was not mentioned in any writings until much later, in the thirteenth century. It's a relatively new city by Iranian standards.But Tehran was a well-known village in the ninth century. It grew rapidly when its neighboring city, Rhages, was destroyed by Mongolian raiders. Many people fled to Tehran.In the seventeenth century Tehran became home to the rulers of the Safavid Dynasty. This is the period when the wall around the city was first constructed. Tehran became the capital of Iran in 1795 and amazingly fast growth followed over the next two hundred years.The recent history of Tehran saw construction of apartment complexes and wide avenues in place of the old Persian gardens, to the detriment of the city's cultural history.The city at present is laid out in two general parts. Northern Tehran is more cosmopolitan and expensive, southern Tehran is cheaper and gets the name "downtown."Getting ThereMehrabad airport is the original one which is currently in the process of being replaced by Imam Khomeini International Airport. The new one is farther away from the city but it now receives all the international traffic, so allow an extra hour to get there or back.TransportationTehran driving can be a wild free-for-all like some South American cities, so get ready for shared taxis, confusing bus routes and a brand new shiny metro system to make it all better. To be fair, there is a great highway system here.The metro has four lines, tickets cost 2000IR, and they have segregated cars. The women-only carriages are the last two at the end, FYI.Taxis come in two flavors, shared and private. Private taxis are more expensive but easier to manage for the visiting traveler. Tehran has a mean rush hour starting at seven AM and lasting until 8PM in its evening version. Solution? Motorcycle taxis! They cut through the traffic and any spare nerves you might have left.People and CultureMore than sixty percent of Tehranis were born outside of the city, making it as ethnically and linguistically diverse as the country itself. Tehran is the most secular and liberal city in Iran and as such it attracts students from all over the country.Things to do, RecommendationsTake the metro to the Tehran Bazaar at the stop "Panzda Gordad". There you can find anything and everything -- shoes, clothes, food, gold, machines and more. Just for the sight of it alone you should take a trip there.If you like being outside, go to Darband and drink tea in a traditional setting. Tehranis love a good picnic and there are plenty of parks to enjoy. Try Mellat park on a friday (fridays are public holidays), or maybe Park Daneshjou, Saaii or Jamshidieh.Remember to go upstairs and have a look around, always always always! The Azadi Tower should fit the bill; it was constructed to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire.Tehran is also full of museums such as:the Contemporary Art Museumthe Abghine Musuem (glass works)the 19th century Golestan Royal Palace museumthe museum of carpets (!!!)Reza Abbasi Museum of extraordinary miniaturesand most stunning of all,the Crown Jewels Museum which holds the largest pink diamond in the world and many other jaw-dropping jewels.Text by Steve Smith.