Khonyagar by Khosrow Hassanzadeh

Presented by 1x1 Art Gallery in association with Vida Heydari

14-year-old Hassanzadeh got acquainted well with the technique of silkscreen-print while working at his textile printing shop. Thrilled about printing a Michael Jackson motif on his t-shirt, little did he know this technique will become an integral part of great bodies of artworks he will make later on as one of the most prominent artists of his country.  As a traditional man raised in the traditional environment, Hassanzadeh was drawn to Iranian traditional paintings and Saqqakhaneh Movement, with his belief in Shia Islam and his passion for Persian poetry and calligraphy further influencing his work.

Historically in Islamic art, religious manuscripts and images are painted on ceramic tiles and placed on the walls and domes of mosques and religious venues. Hassanzadeh has chosen this traditional medium to give importance to his characters stating that the impact of these people are as critical as their religious counterparts, honouring them with the importance and worth they deserve.

In his first solo exhibition at the 1x1 art gallery, Hassanzadeh has chosen to exhibit Khonyagars (singers and musicians). This time his oeuvre depicts some of the most prominent figures in the music history of Iran and the Arab world, all of which are authoritative in their genres and styles.

In the main work of the exhibition, embellished with jewels, he has depicted a tiara-wearing Ghamar, the first Iranian female singer who sang without a veil, Mahvash, the first woman to sing and dance daringly in front of groups of men, highly celebrated singer Marzieh, diva Delkash, Tar player Darvish Khan and many more. In the Arab Singers, a powerful image of Um Kolsoum, one of the most influential singers of the 20th century and Egypt, is singing centre stage, with Fairuz, the Jewel of Lebanon holding flowers on the right. Syria’s Farid Al Atrash, known as the Kind of Oud, and his beautiful sister singer Asmahan, as well as the most internationally famous Algerian singer Khaled, are also present amongst others. 

While his Arab Singers have the warm and inviting backdrop of palm trees and the mysterious ever-lasting Pyramids of Egypt, Hassanzadeh’s Iranian Khonyagars are set on an exquisitely sensual backdrop of a banquet of miniature figures singing, dancing and being joyous, with the Persian chandelier hung right in the centre with symmetrical curtains on both side depicting the poetry of celebrated Persian poets Hafez, Saadi, as well as Shahnameh. 

As always his works are a combination of images, painting, collage, silkscreen and mixed media. Shimmering under the spotlights, they are beautifully kitsch, flamboyant and nostalgic, just like Hassanzadeh himself who lights up the room with a kind of youthful and authentic verve unique to himself.

- Vida Heydari 


About the artist

Khosrow Hassanzadeh was born in 1963 In Tehran where he lives and works.  He studied painting at Mojtama-e-Honar University and Persian Literature at Azad University, both in Tehran.

Besides numerous solo exhibitions in galleries in London, Tehran, Dubai, New York, Singapore, Berlin, Brussels, Beirut, Damascus and Phnom Penh, Hassanzadeh has presented a retrospective at The Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam in 2006. Over the years, he has taken part in several group exhibitions, including: In the Field of Empty Days, LACMA, Los Angeles 2018; Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet, Agha Khan Museum, Toronto 2017; East-West Divan: Contemporary Art from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009; Jameel Prize 2009; Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2009; Iran Inside Out, Chelsea Art Museum, New York 2009; Iranian Art Today, Museum of Contemporary Art, Freiburg 2006; Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East, British Museum, London 2006, to name a few. 


His works are part of numerous permanent public and private collections such as The British Museum, The Tropenmuseum, The World Bank, National Museum of Scotland and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, amongst others.