The art of post-revolutionary Iran is taking center stage at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto in an exhibition opening February 4 and curated by Dr. Fereshteh Daftari. All works are from the collection of the British-Iranian financier and collector Mohammed Afkhami.

Dr. Fereshteh Daftari

“Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians” features 27 works by 23 prominent contemporary Iranian artists, including Abbas Kiarostami, Parviz Tanavoli and Shirin Aliabadi. Running through June 4, the exhibition is co-organized by the Mohammed Afkhami Foundation.

“Despite the sanctions, isolation and political unrest characterizing Iran in this millennium, the creative forces of Iranian artists have not been dampened,”

Dr. Daftari explains.
“The narratives presented in the exhibition are woven out of genuine obsession and eloquent resilience.”

“This is not the first exhibition on the subject, but it is the first to cast these artists and their works in light of their fortitude.”

Highlights include:

  • a digital portrait from the Miss Hybrid series by Shirin Aliabadi;
  • a fighter jet sculpture made of 32 stacked Persian carpets by Farhad Moshiri;
  • a painted fiberglass sculpture standing nearly two meters tall by Parviz Tanavoli;
  • a triptych from the Snow White black-and-white photography series by Abbas Kiarostami.
Photograph of Mohammed Afkhami by artnet News

Mohammed Afkhami is managing partner of MA Partners DMCC, a financial and natural-resources consultancy established in Dubai in 2005. He started collecting contemporary Iranian art over a decade ago, and was listed by Artnet in 2016 as one of the 12 important collectors to watch.

Afkhami is also a member of the British Museum’s Middle East and North Africa Art Acquisition Committee, of the Guggenheim Museum’s Middle East and North Africa Art Acquisition Committee, and of the Board of Patrons for Art Dubai.

“A passion for the arts of Iran, tinged with patriotic undertones, is part of Mohammed Afkhami’s family history,” says Dr. Daftari, who notes that the collector has acquired some 300 works of Iranian art from 1961 to today.

The Aga Khan Museum is a museum of Islamic and Persian art and Muslim culture established in 2014 in Toronto by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network.
The museum’s mission is to highlight the contribution of Muslim civilizations to world heritage, and it has both permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada

The museum building was designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki. It shares a 6.8- hectare site with Toronto’s Ismaili Center, designed by the renowned Indian architect Charles Correa.