Basketballs Become Art in Paris Exhibition Championed by Tennis Player Mansour Bahrami


By Nazanine Nouri


Basketballs were on display in a two-week exhibition held at the Galerie Nicolas Flamel in Paris last month. “Basket Goes Persian: When Origins Inspire” — curated by Hessam Khalatbari, Yassi Metghalchi, and Trajectoire studio, in collaboration with 14 Iranian artists — featured basketballs transformed by a team of Iranian contemporary artists.

Artists who made work with a basketball were Ali Akbar Sadeghi, Reza Derakshani, Golnaz Fathi, Shahriar Ahmadi, Samira Alikhanzadeh, Mohsen Ahmadvand, Bahareh Navabi, Fereydoon Omidi, Mehrdad Shoghi, and Azadeh Razaghdoost.

The exhibition’s patron was Mansour Bahrami, the renowned Iranian-born tennis player.

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Mansour Bahrami.

Bahrami noted that art and sport were two great unifying forces in the world today: They “bring men and women together and encourage creativity and self-improvement. A work of art or a wonderful gesture of sportsmanship is the shortest path from one person to another.”

“As a top athlete, it is natural that I adhere to the beautiful initiative of the Galerie Nicolas Flamel,” Bahrami added.

The gallery’s co-directors Yassi Metghalchi and Hessam Khalatbari pointed out that the world was “fascinated by this round ball which, thanks to its spherical shape, conveys the notion of universality.”

“Sport and culture share a common ideal: they seek to build a path towards the advancement of mankind,” they added, noting that the game brought people together in an otherwise divided world.

Ali Akbar Sadeghi (born 1937) is one of the most prolific Iranian artists of his generation who has participated in over 50 solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally.  His works have been acquired by the British Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts.

Reza Derakshani (born 1952) is a painter, musician and performance artist who grew up in a nomadic family in Sangsar, a small village in northeastern Iran. His works are featured in the permanent collections of the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz in Germany, as well as the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

Golnaz Fathi (born 1972) is a trained calligrapher and was the first woman to win an award for ketabat, a distinct genre of calligraphy.  Her works have been acquired by New York’s Metropolitan Museum, Singapore’s Asian Civilization’s Museum, the British Museum, the Carnegie Mellon University in Doha, the Museum of Islamic Art in Malaysia, the Devi Art Foundation in New Delhi and the Farjam Foundation in Dubai.

“Basket Goes Persian” grew out of a close collaboration with the Iranian-born, Paris-based sports aficionado Jérémie Nassir, founder of Trajectoire Studio, a company specialized in creative content and brand experience inspired by sport.

Galerie Nicolas Flamel was founded in 2009 by Fathali Metghalchi and Kimya Derambakhsh.  Since 2013, it has been co-directed by Hessam Khalatbari and Yassi Metghalchi and has been totally dedicated to modern and contemporary Iranian art, with works from both emerging and prominent Iranian artists.  The gallery is located in the Marais district of Paris, within walking distance of the Centre Pompidou.

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