DUBAI: At 94 years old, Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian would surely be forgiven for resting on her considerable laurels. Her work, after all, is featured in several of the world’s leading museums, including Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Guggenheim in New York, and London’s Tate Modern. She even has a museum all of her own in Tehran.
As her latest solo exhibition proves, however, Farmanfarmaian isn’t even close to slowing down yet. “The Breeze at Dawn Has Secrets to Tell You,” which opened at Dubai’s Third Line Gallery late September and runs until November 3, features mixed-media installations created by the artist this year (including new iterations of her famed Mirror Ball works from the Seventies, originally inspired, apparently, by children playing football in the streets.
The exhibition continues Farmanfarmaian’s exploration of math, Islamic cosmology, and Sufi mysticism (the title comes from a Rumi poem) but also introduces an entirely new practice for the artist, as she experiments with kinetic art for the first time. Her familiar geometric mirror mosaics are, the gallery explains in a statement, “framed by curtains of reverse-painted plexiglass strands that one imagines could oscillate in the wind.” Several of those works also feature suspended pendants, further mirroring the shapes from which they hang.
“Each of the shapes possesses mathematical attributes and, consequently, its own meaning. Thus, the triangle becomes a symbol of harmony representing the sould and the three forms of action: mental, physical and verbal, while the square is synonymous with stability, the four cardinal points, and the four seasons,” the statement says.
Back in the 1950s, Farmanfarmaian worked alongside some of modern art’s most-famous names, including Andy Warhol, Frank Stella and Jackson Pollock. “The Breeze at Dawn Has Secrets to Tell You” shows that — over half a century later — Farmanfarmaian still, remarkably, retains the kind of energy and playfulness that helped drive her then-contemporaries, while her mastery of technique has continued to flourish.