“Sign from Iran” is an exhibition of contemporary Iranian placards opening at the L.A.Mayer Museum of Islamic Art, Jerusalem on May 19th 2016. At a press conference on May 17th, museum director Mr. Nadim Shiban spoke about the museum’s recent activity, introducing political poster artist, teacher and designer Yossi Lemel whose inspiration it was to have the exhibit. Curators of the exhibition are Professor Lemel and Dr. Marta Sylvestrovà of the Moravian Gallery, Brno, Czechoslovakia.
35 years ago, Yossi Lemel travelled to Turkey, reaching the Turkish-Iran border; he dreamt of entering Iran but was unable to do so for obvious reasons. He spoke of the process of putting the current exhibit together as a difficult one, fraught with complications. The placards, collected in Czechoslovakia, Slovenia and Germany, represent a synthesis of east and west, of topography and calligraphy and shed light on the culture and people of Iran – of art, theatre, society and political issues. Due to sensitive aspects of the show, there were some artists who decided to withdraw their works from the exhibition in Jerusalem, which was put together especially for the Museum of Islamic Art, Jerusalem. Lemel emphasized its importance both for us and for the artists, for the visitor to see the human content in a world that addresses Iran from a political point of view; he also pointed out the disparity of what is actually shown and what remains concealed in art on a country whose society is as conservative as Iran. Yet despite prohibitions and restrictions imposed by the regime, the country’s artists have certainly made their mark and have proved themselves innovative in the world of calligraphy and typography.
Entering the gallery, one is confronted by a huge, vivid photo of young Iranian people, mostly women, in a clandestine café. The women’s faces are not covered and one is smoking a cigarette. The picture was taken by French photographer Jeremy Suyker, who has been traveling to Iran since 2013, documenting the country’s rich culture and history as well as Tehran’s underground art scene. As to the 60 posters of 27 artists, on different levels they connect to Iran’s cultural, historic and religious traditions, the poets and philosophers of the last 1000 years of Persian history and the relationship between Arabic and Persian script, and through the eyes of the sophisticated modern artist. Addressing political and social issues, artists have used visual puns, metaphors and indirect poetic messages to convey their message. The viewer is challenged to read into the symbols on these placards. Women artists, combining their rich cultural heritage and multidisciplinary techniques, give expression to women’s issues. An exhibition of great beauty and interest, the viewer experiences the sensuality and mystery of ancient times through the eyes of masterful contemporary artists.
“Sign from Iran” - May 19th - November 19th.
The L.A.Mayer Museum of Islamic Art, 2 Hapalmach St., Jerusalem