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World Famous Sculptor’s Exhibition in World Creative City of Isfahan

Insert Date : 2018-02-28
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Nafise Hajati


The big adventure started while Over 40 tons of art works consists of 36 sculptures and 111 drawings of “the modern British sculptor on every curator’s wish list” were transported by 5 trunks from Germany to Iran. They are showcased during “Tony Cragg - Roots and Stones”exhibition in historical building of Isfahan contemporary art museum and will be run for 2 months from February 4 to April 13, 2018.

“In the discussions I had with some journalists and people in museum, there are two prevalent questions; why sculpture and why Isfahan?!” said Tony Cragg in his second exhibition`s opening ceremony in Iran.“For me, sculpture is no longer what it was in past last 100 years, it was just used as a power symbols or a form of decoration but it is changed and developed over the last a hundred years into a study of the entire material world,” Speaking at the central library of the Isfahan city hall, on Wednesday, February 4, he added.



“Of course it is not in the same way that science investigates the material world but it means science is meaningless without art. I`ve had a very privileged life when I worked in the studio searching for new forms and new content and I know that art sculpture is entirely subjective, probably no ultimately proves but it is ultimately human. So I generally privileged to be able to bring my work and exhibited to a public who perhaps doesn’t know my works and it’s a new experience,” Cragg pointed out.While more than 250 people both from governmental organizations and art lovers inhabitants attending the opening ceremony of Cragg`s exhibition in Isfahan, he added: “I think we all are aware of the relations between our countries which were not the best but I believe one has to communicate with each other and share the ideas and art is a very good vehicle to doing this. As an individual I wanted to show what I`ve been able to experience in my own life.”  “The kindness and friendliness I`ve experienced during my visit in Iran and Isfahan encourages me to believe that we all profit from communicating with each other! Because whatever the past is being, we will have to create the future together!” he said.



Mahdi Tamizi, Head of the contemporary art museum of Isfahan also had a speech in the opening ceremony, quoted a sentence from Tony Cragg: “Art shows us who we are and in which condition we are” and added that it is hoped that visiting these figures and their presence can make our questioning souls ask about our human essence and being—a question which should constantly be asked to make one reach perfection.“Also the constant wish to have one of Tony Cragg’s sculptures in Isfahan can turn into a symbol showing the presence of this human and transcendental questioning,” Tamizi continued.



In this opening, Mohammad Eidi, deputy of the mayor of Isfahan in his speaking also said that Isfahan has been formed based on a conversation among artists, scientists, governors and the inhabitants. It’s a multicultural and creative city.



Head of the cultural, social and sports department of city hall added that What Tony Cragg saw in Isfahan were experiences of the Isfahan artists created based on their conversation with the world. As a clerk of the city hall I do my best both to prepare a good atmosphere for the artists to make their creative and artistic projects and different opportunities for international artists to cooperate and make conversation with the artists and inhabitants of Isfahan.



After the opening ceremony, all the attendees walking through historical Safavid pass to open the exhibition in contemporary art museum of Isfahan in a building date back to 5 hundred years ago. In every corner there were lots of young or mature artists, governors and art lovers, who visited the sculptures and drawings and tried to sharing ideas with each other and also did conversation with the sculptor. Journalists from local and national newspapers, news agencies and TV networks also were there and had some interviews with audiences and the artist.



A day after opening ceremony, Isfahan Times’ reporter interview with Demosthenes Davvetas, Greek cultural ambassador who traveled to Isfahan with Tony and wrote an article that was published in the book of the exhibition. He answered the question about how he met Tony for the first time: “I know Tony since 32 years ago, I was very young boy, 20 years old, and I was working for Libération famous French daily newspaper. It was just 2 months that I arrived in France to continue my studies in Sorbonne University. Joseph Beuys, a well-known artist who was my master, took me from Greece to France and then gave me scholarship to study in Berlin.” 



“Libération asked me if I could make an interview with Joseph Beuys because it was so difficult for them to meet him, so I asked him and he said yes I do only with you because I know you. Then after this interview, I started to work for Libération.  After some months I visited an exhibition of a young artist, 32 years old, whose name was Tony Cragg. I saw his work and then I started to talk with him. After ten minutes he invited me to drink!” Davvetas added.



“He became one of the most famous sculptors of the world” Demosthenes mentioned this sentence in his first article about Tony Cragg in Libération; which cause his director to criticized him but the young journalist insist on his ideas.



Answering how he made this conclusion at the first meeting with Tony Cragg, he answered: “Speaking with him, I found out he was a kind of philosophical and poetical guy. Tony Cragg interested on how the sculpture can represent the inside situation of human being. He doesn’t believe in sculpture only as a staic form. He believe that the sculpture functionally and organically, need to have a meaning so every line and deform figures has symbolic and significant meaning for Tony.”



Professor of Philosophy in Sorbonne University added: “during all these years we talked a lot about philosophy; Tony is very sensitive and intelligent. If you give him an answer about what the word for example “form” which is a Greek word derived from “morphen” he made its sculpture immediately. All of his works are based on language and what the words has inside. Also his art works are based in drawings; he is a drawing man so we can say Tony Cragg is an important contemporary sculptor artist because all his work is not based on material, but based on dematerialized the material. And add the meaning to materials.”“All of his sculptures have meaning even if they look like some nice static game sometimes but behind this game there is a meaning which provoke the eyes.  Also there is a kind of existential philosophy thoughts of Kierkegaard, Danish and lots of British poets like Shelley,” he also declared.Demosthenes Davvetas believes that there are 2 kinds of artists; typical artist who graduated from art school and they just learn to play with techniques which is not enough to make them a grate artist. And in the other hand, there are great artists like Tony Cragg and Joseph Beuys whose spirit are alive all the time and they are always thinking about human being and the environment.”



In reply to a question about how is Tony Cragg`s character and core competences, he said that Tony works on double identity; he is an English man grow up in England but live his most of his life in Germany so he is very strong, clever and quick, who have a new ideas all the time.


Tony Cragg`s exhibitions in different cities of Iran were organized by Afshin Derambakhsh and Till Breckner, Artconcepts who organize the exhibitions worldwide for famous artists from different countries.



In an interview a day after opening ceremony of Tony Cragg`s exhibition in Isfahan, Till Breckner talked about their first exhibition in Iran which dates back to 2012 in Tehran and was a great success so the trust and friendship were grow up and Ideas of executing more in Iran were created.“We had pre-visit to Iran, one and a half years ago. Tony was super happy and impressed by the beauty of Isfahan so he decided to show his artworks here,” Breckner said. “We search for the places which are interesting for the artist to propose to artists. We ask Tony if he is interested in have a dialog with Iran and Persian culture. It’s not only about showing the artworks but it means every artist takes something back for example Tony Cragg created 3 art works in Germany which is referred to Zoroaster and it’s about “good thought” gives the “good word” and gives “good deed”. I myself like a feeling of respect in Persian culture,” he addedBreckner visited Iran for 18 times during recent years for different exhibitions answered to the question about how he analyses and describe Tony Cragg exhibition in Isfahan and said that from the static perspective it’s such a beautiful place here even though we have less artworks here compare to Tehran. What I experienced from the opening ceremony is we had a lot of grate dialog with local people.



He talked about the procedure of executing in Iran and mentioned that insuring the artworks of western artists was difficult but a Swiss company undertook the insurance. According to him, the logistic process was difficult because the sculptures are really heavy. “We transported over 40 tons and more than a hundred cubic meters of artworks to Iran. In this regard, we decided to transport it with 5 trucks from Germany to Easter Europe and to turkey then Iran. It was a big Adventure!” he added.



“Even after 18 times of visit Iran, every time again I impressed with its curtsy and by the hospitality of our Iranian friends. We are happy to be here every time. I can say there is interest in Germany for Iranian culture and also for contemporary culture so we are going to planning for Iranian artists to execute in Germany as well but it needs to have some more time to develop it,” Breckner said.



Sebastian Preuss was another member of the group accompanies Tony Cragg for opening the exhibition in Isfahan, an Art historian who works as an Art journalist for over 20 years.


“The special things with our magazine are that we are very much interested in ancient art as well as contemporary art so this is the reason I came to Iran.



When I’ve heard about this project I was very much interested because I’ve heard about the city of Isfahan and its classical architecture that is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In one hand, there was Isfahan and on the other hand there was an artist who is very well known in west and really a big star in Germany and internationally, these two elements made this project a very special and fascinating story. So when I was asked if I could come with them I was very pleased,” he asserted.



“My focus is only on the art and it was very interesting to see most important building of the city of Isfahan and I learned so much. My goal is to show our readers how fascinating this city is and how it worked with Tony,” deputy Editor of Weltkunst (world art), which is the oldest art magazine in Germany founded in 1927, added.



 “I was fascinated by the quality of speeches, what director and other persons said.And for all of us it became quite soon clear that here there are very high educational standard people really interested on an intellectual level and Isfahan has very high standard of education. We had many talks’ with people. And I liked very much that so many young people came to the opening ceremony in Contemporary art museum of Isfahan, especially lots of young women,” he referred to the opening ceremony in Isfahan.



“Skull”, “spring”, “we”, “False Idols”, “Sharing”, “Outspan”, “Hedge”, “Cauldron”, “Mental Landscape”, “Caught Dreaming”, “Ever after”, “Weatherman”, “Compound”,” Listeners”, “McCormack”, “In Relation” and “Point of View” are the names of just some of “Tony Cragg - Roots and Stones”exhibition which are showcase in 6 different spaces of Isfahan contemporary art museum.



Preparing this exhibition was a complicated process that a group of experts in different fields from Iran and Germany have cooperated to do the process; Mahshid Sheikhi, Behrouz Zargar, Alireza Heydari, Mehdi Vafaei Mehr and Maryam Abdolahi are among this international group. The exhibition will be continue till 13th of April so in Newrooz, 13 days of Persian new year holidays, many travellers who travel to Isfahan as one of the three destinations of tourism golden triangle route of Iran, have the opportunity to visit Tony Cragg`s sculptures but who missed this opportunity could wait for the third opening ceremony which will be hold in Kerman, south of Iran.

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