Artist Firouz Farmanfarmaian turns confinement into creativity with his first virtual exhibition

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Firouz Farmanfarmaian. (Image supplied)
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'Confinement' by Firouz Farmanfarmaian. (Image supplied)
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'New Form IV' by Firouz Farmanfarmaian. (Image supplied)
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A sketch from Firouz Farmanfarmaian's 'Let's Get Lost (Let Them Send Out Alarms)' exhibition. (Image supplied)
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Updated 27 April 2020

Artist Firouz Farmanfarmaian turns confinement into creativity with his first virtual exhibition

  • For his latest work, the artist used only materials on hand in his studio

LONDON: When multidisciplinary artist Firouz Farmanfarmaian went into lockdown at his studio in Marbella, Spain, in March, he didn’t realize his time in confinement would be a period of intense creativity leading to his first ever participation in a VR exhibition.

Prior to isolation, Farmanfarmaian spent six months in the Draa Valley in South Morocco, working closely with local Amazigh artisans and painting in the deserted streets of abandoned ‘ghost’ villages — once populated by Berbers and, further back, by Jews.

He told Arab News that the first few days in confinement after his time in the wide open spaces of the Draa Valley had been “pretty brutal.” Then, out of the blue, a phone exchange with his agent Janet Rady led to the launch of a collaborative multi-platform digital exhibition available across Artsy, the Janet Rady Fine Arts (JRFA) website, Nouvelle Vague Artspaces, Kunsmatrix VR exhibition and Instagram.




Work in progress in Firouz Farmanfarmaian's studio in Marbella. (Image supplied)

“Let's Get Lost (Let Them Send Out Alarms),” which runs until May 13, features art that Farmanfarmaian created using only materials immediately on hand in his studio. In part this was due to the logistical restrictions of the lockdown, but  it was also a result of his admiration for the concept of ‘junkspace’ defined by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas as “what remains after modernization has run its course or, more precisely, what coagulates while modernization is in progress, its fallout.”

Farmanfarmaian worked with companies in the industrial area of Marbella where his studio is based, taking delivery of their unused materials and repurposing them for his art.

“I used industrial glue on wood and acrylic markers and plastic paint with a lot of texturization,” he said. “We are living through dark times so I logically went towards a darker type of palette which reflects the reality that people are dying in this plague and the mood I am in right now.” The muted colors also reflect the desert landscapes he was working in before the lockdown.

Farmanfarmaian also used an oval shape as a motif in his work for the first time. A departure from the triangle and cosmic cross that feature prominently in his preceding work. “When I used the triangle and cosmic cross they would be shown with an encasing. I slowly started in this series to move forward into this new form, in which the triangle and cross have disappeared and only the encasing, which had originally been created just to give them perspective, stayed,” he explained.




Work from Firouz Farmanfarmaian's 'Let's Get Lost (Let Them Send Out Alarms)' exhibition. (Image supplied)

There is a strong architectural feel to Farmanfarmaian’s work, a legacy of his grandfather, the pioneering architect Abdul Aziz Farmanfarmaian, whose extensive legacy includes high-profile projects in Saudi Arabia where he worked after the Iranian revolution. Although Farmanfarmaian studied architecture, he did not follow his grandfather into the profession. After three years he chose to switch to studying graphic design, but he recognizes “there is an element of architectonics in my work.”

In his work, you sense Farmanfarmaian searching for his lost roots. He left Iran aged four when his family moved to Spain because of the revolution. He was largely educated in Paris, under the guidance of his grandfather. He is also powerfully influenced by the concept of ‘trace,’ as espoused by the late French philosopher Edouard Glissant.

“His idea was that the archaic cultures and memory have to be revisited and put forward again in order for to us to communicate better today,” Farmanfarmaian said

This philosophy influenced his post-tribal exhibition “Memorandum of the Unknown Path,” a powerful site-specific installation in the main halls of the Théâtre Royal de Marrakech for the 1-54 Marrakech 2020 African art fair. This work is currently going through the qualification process for the Jameel Prize, echoing the footsteps of his late great aunt, the celebrated artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, who was a finalist in 2011.

For Farmanfarmaian, the coronavirus has meant isolation but also intense creativity and exploration of new ways of communicating. He believes it is the responsibility of artists to give hope in times of darkness.

“We are adaptive creatures and every situation can also be a blessing,” he said.


Birthday tributes for Halima Aden flood social media

Updated 20 September 2020

Birthday tributes for Halima Aden flood social media

DUBAI: Tributes from all over the world poured in for US-Somali model Halima Aden’s birthday this week. Models, actresses and designers have all taken to social media to wish the newly-minted 23-year-old a happy birthday. 

“Happy birthday, baby,” wrote Egyptian model and actress Salma Abu Deif on her Instagram Stories. “Love you always,” she added alongside a black-and-white snap of the two together.

Also taking to the photo-sharing platform to celebrate Aden on her big day was US designer Tommy Hilfiger, for whom the hijab-wearing catwalker recently starred in a campaign. 

Egyptian actress Salma Abu Deif wished the model a happy birthday. Instagram

American actress Larsen Thompson posted an adorable snap of the friends in an embrace, writing, “Happy birthday to my beautiful sis @Halima. You amaze me! Love and miss you!”

Meanwhile, US-Lebanese designer Eli Mizrahi posted an editorial from Aden’s instantly-iconic 2017 shoot with CR Fashion Book, captioning it: “Definition of a superstar! Happy birthday, @halima.”

“Thank you for all the birthday wishes,” posted the model on Instagram. “Alhamdulilah, 23 never felt so good.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thank you for all the birthday wishes alhamdulilah 23 never felt so good #jordanyear

A post shared by Halima (@halima) on

Many celebrities took to the comment section to share their well-wishes, including supermodels Shanina Shaik, Iman Abdulmajeed and singer Austin Mahone. 

Though Aden just turned 23, she has already achieved many career milestones.

The model, who grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp before migrating to Minnesota with her family aged seven, made headlines at the age of 19 when she was the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant, where she made the semifinals, in 2016.

Also taking to the photo-sharing platform to celebrate Aden on her big day was US designer Tommy Hilfiger. Instagram

She would go on to make her runway debut at Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 5 showcase during New York Fashion Week in 2017, becoming the first model to wear a hijab on the international runway.

 After her debut, she walked for a number of prestigious brands such as Moschino and Max Mara and was the first model to wear her hijab on the covers of major women’s magazines, such as Allure, British Vogue, Teen Vogue and Sports Illustrated. 

When she’s not turning heads on the runways or pages of renowned magazines, Aden, who was announced as a UNICEF ambassador in 2018, uses her voice and platform to advocate for children’s rights. 

But despite all of her exceptional achievements, it is clear that Aden is only getting started and is certain to be breaking boundaries for years to come.