گالری سیحون در کوچه ی چهارم خیابان وزراء بود. و هست: در کوچه ایی با شیب تند، که در سالهای جوانی و در وقت بازگشتن به همان راحتی از آن بالا می آمدی، که در وقت پایین رفتن در آن سرازیر می شدی .
سمت راست و در وسطهای کوچه درِ چوبی ضخیمی، با کوبههای فلزی، به سالن کوچکی باز میشد با نقاشیهای آویخته بر دیوار، با ویترینی رو به کوچه، با کفی فرش شده از کاشیهای مستطیلی براق قهوهیی رنگ، با میز شیشه ایی بزرگی با پایههای تراشیده شده از سر ستونهای سنگی و ظرفهای ظریف شیرینی خشک و خوشمزه ی چیده شده بر آن.
در پشت این سالن اطاق کوچکی بود اطاق نه، که تختگاه خانم معصومه ی سیحون آراسته با خوشسلیقگی محض، و بی خودنمایی یا تفاخری، و یادآور درون درخشان صاحبش. با نیمکتهایی برای نشستن و از هر دری سخن در میان آوردن؛ رو به میز و قفسه ی چوبی ظریفی، با صندلی چرخان مقابلش، با دسته گلی و اغلب شاخه ی ماگنولیای شکفته و هوش ربایی در گلدان.
و خانم معصومه ی سیحون یا معصومه نوشین، یا منیر سیحون ملکه ایی بود نشسته بر سریر برحقش؛ مانند پوران دخت و آذرمیدخت ساسانی، که هر از گاه با هر کسی به زبانی سخن می گفت و در هر لحظهی متغیر: ازتلخِ تلخ تا شیرینِ شیرین ... زبان و لحن و کلام و ستایش و نفرینی داشت، که به همراهش رفت و بیجایگزین باقی ماند.
حالش که خوش بود دریغی از مهربانی نداشت و زائرانش را به لقبی و یا عنوانی مینواخت -و وقتهایی مرا هم! اما خشمش که مشتعل میشد، بهتر بود دورتر می ایستادی و ظاهراَ مشغول می شدی به تماشای نقاشیهای روی دیوار، که اگر هم درست نمیدیدیشان، اما امنتر میماندی!
هنر معاصر ایران را چه خوب میشناخت که مادرخواندهی آن بود و با هم و درهم زیسته بودند و چه شمّ و شعور و سلیقه و انتخاب بیمانندی داشت. اتاق کوچکش میقات هنرمندان مطرح و مهم و مشهور عصر بود: از بهمن محصص و رضا مافی و محمد احصایی، تا افجه ای و سهراب سپهری که سهراب بیشتر دوست داشت بر روی کاشی کف گالری بنشیند و ولو شود و صدها تن دیگر، تا تقریباً هر کسی که کسی بود و یا قرار بود به یمن لطف او کسی شود.
گالری سیحون نبض تپنده ی هنرهای تجسمی معاصر ایران بود، و حضور معصومه خانم، دلگرمی و پشتوانه یی مستدام. سخت کار کرد و کوشید و درخت تناوری کاشت و نشاند، که هنوز و همچنان دارد ثمر می دهد، و زیر سایه ی گستردهاش اهل معنا آرام می گیرند. تاریخ هنر معاصر ایران را بی ذکر جایگاه بلند و تعیین کنندهی او نمیشود نوشت، و چنین است که هر کدام از ما به نوعی و در ایامی کوتاه یا بلند، وامدار او ماندهایم و سالهای مشخص و متمایزی از عمرمان در حضور او و یا با یاد او گذشته است.
ما جوانان آن روزگارِ امروز به این ناهنجاری فرتوت شده، چه تنها و بی جر و جوش ماندهایم بی او، و چه تند اما تا مغز استخوان حسشده بوق و کرنای به ظاهر پرجوش و خروش اطرافمان را بحق به چیزی نمی-گیریم، که چه آشکار و یکسره جعلی و پرت وخالی و جلف و پوک مینماید. و نمینماید ...که هست.
Seyhoun Gallery was on 4th St., at Vozara Blvd.—it still is. It is on a steep alley, which, at your young age, you would ascend it as easily as you would descend it.
At your right, and in the middle of the alley, a wooden thick door, with metal knockers, would open to a modest hall, with paintings hanging on the walls, a showcase facing the alley, and a floor, covered with square, shiny, brown tiles. There was a large glass table, with carved legs made of stone, on which there were placed delicate containers, in which appetizing assorted sweets were arranged.
There was a little chamber behind this hall; no a regular room, but indeed Ms. Ma’soomeh Seyhoun’s throne room! It was well-adorned with sheer taste and absence of ostentation, which reminded us of its possessor’s illumined spirit. There were little benches to sit on and chat on any topic. They were facing a dainty wooden shelf and a desk, with a wheelchair in front of it, and a bunch of flowers in the vase on it—usually mesmerizing blossomed magnolias. And Lady Ma’soomeh Seyhoun—or Ma’soomeh Noosheen, or Monir Seyhoun—was a queen residing her rightly deserved throne—like Poorandokht and Azarmidokht, the Sassanian female monarchs—who would once in a while speak in a different tone with different individuals; and at any changeable moment, from the bitterest of the bitters, to the sweetest of the sweets, she had a particular parlance, intonation, speech, and a word of commendation or malediction, which was departed along with her and was left with no replacement.
When she was in good spirit, she did not deny anybody her kindness, and she would even flatter her visitor by using a nickname or an epithet in addressing him or her—At times, me, too! But when her fury was set ablaze, you would have had better keep your distance, and pretended that you were looking at the paintings on the walls—in which case, even if you didn’t have enough concentration to know what you were looking at, at least you were safer!
How well she understood the contemporary art! For she was its foster mother, and they had lived with one another and in one another; and what an unparalleled sense of perceptiveness, discernment, and selection she possessed! Her little room was the gathering place of the much-sought, important, and well-known artists of the time; from Bahman Mohasses, Reza Mafi, and Mohammad Ehsayi, to Afjeyi and Sohrab Sepehri—who would mostly like to sit on the floor tile of the gallery and spread himself out—and hundreds of others, and almost anybody who already was, or was going to, become somebody important by her favor and support.
Seyhoun Gallery was indeed the palpitating pulse of the Iranian contemporary visual arts; and Lady Ma’soomeh’s presence was a persisting encouragement and support. She worked and endeavored hard, and planted and entrenched such a massive tree that is still yielding fruits, and under its shades the spiritual intellectuals rest and find peace. One may not put pen to paper on the contemporary Iranian art without mentioning her exalted and decisive position. And it is thusly that each and every one of us, in one way or another, for a short time or a long one, have become indebted to her, and certain distinct years of our lives have passed in her presence, or with reminiscing on her memories.
How we—the having so unpleasantly grown feeble youth of the old days—are left lonely and void of fervor without her! How expeditiously—but felt to the bone—we disregard the pretentious hustle and bustle and the echoes of the bugles around us; for how entirely fictitious, off the mark, void, frivolous, and hollow they appear to be—well, not “appear to be,” but they really are!
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.