TEHRAN. (Iranart) –Aydin Aghdashloo, a well-known master of Iranian art (painting), has been facing accusations in cyberspace for several years, and he has usually remained silent about them. Even a New York Times article five months ago and Persian-language satellite TV channels abroad, did not cause him to respond to the devastation; But now, on the eve of the solar New Year, he responded to some of these rumors in a detailed interview with Tajrobe Magazine.
In a discussion with Houman Mortazavi sculptor and graphic designer said They said do not interview I did not listen! The advice of friends was absolutely correct. Especially these days, everything is black and white, and even if you remain silent, they have already prepared a patch for you, but for a thousand and one hundred reasons, I wanted this conversation to take place. First, like everyone else, I am amazed at myself, the people around me, and the community in which we live. My life, like the rest is the story of cucumber-sycamore-minaret. I usually act the way I think. It is interpreted differently, and the end result has nothing to do with my action or the other person's perception. Sometimes I understand or come to my senses and try to repair the damage but most of the time, like everyone else, the list of what I know and what I do not know is a small percentage of our total need for salvation.But I like to be different from the common people in constantly reviewing myself and those around me. This method of confrontation is not perfect, but at least the characteristic of these repeated ploughings is that I will not be indebted to myself later.
I remind myself that these recent adventures have nothing to do with me directly, but the period when I was a student and admirer of Aydin Aghdashloo is an important part of my personal life history and that of many others whose nature and existence have been questioned. we, found the definition of right and wrong, good and bad today by associating with Aghdashloo and his other contemporaries who remained available. I use the same background and acquaintance, but to break the one-sided silence. I remind myself that not everyone is supposed to be Superman in all respects, and I should not base my career on people based solely on their tastes and perceptions of their personality. Accusation, defines, judiciary and punishment have nothing to do with me knowing the details, neither my prosecutor, nor my judge, nor my executioner. From the beginning, I assumed that everyone was right, and I was aware of the interference of charges and concepts, the legal and judicial burden of the case, and the seed sellers in the middle of the execution.
Like any sane person, I try not to blindly support or take sides. I wrote this text before the interview and if it remains intact, you will read the same. I do not know that Aydin will come out from behind his shield and armour, and that Aydin, the vulnerable ordinary person I have seen, will suddenly express himself. However, many questions cannot be asked and answered directly, and I am sure that some people think that whatever they say is too little, wrong, out of place or too late because they have already made their decision. That means there is no problem if they do not read!
Houman Mortazavi: Now in 80 years old, if you are going to summarize as a person who has worked in the field of culture and art for a lifetime and look at the past, what is your assessment and point of view?
Aydin Aghdashloo: I think I have come a long way with difficulty. This is the definition of the whole these 80 years. But what I think about it, is that the question is more about how I feel than what I judge! The feeling I have is that I pursued a goal that slowly formed in my mind anyway. I did not violate this goal. Now, how much I have reached or not reached is no longer my judgment, but the judgment of the world around me. I feel good about this.
What if you did not know Aydin Aghdashloo and wanted to judge him as an outsider? Are your judgments and feelings positive?
Aydin Aghdashloo: My judgment is more positive. Judgment is another type of confrontation. The judgment is whether I got where I wanted to go. I always wanted to be a member of the surrounding society. As a kid, I used to want to do everything I could to test myself - I did. As a result, I achieved my goal as a member of the surrounding community. Now, to say whether my work is worthwhile or not, or what it would be like if I just wanted to do one thing, is another point. It's been 80 years ... and the rest remains for the next 80 years!
You have not had much public activity as an artist and painter. Although we know you have been constantly working behind the scenes, you have not had more than two exhibitions and have never been a "full time" painter. Do you think that writing, criticism, theorising and all other activities have been diluted in the same way or weren't possible anymore?
Aydin Aghdashloo: Of course, between my two exhibitions in Iran, I had a detailed exhibition in Toronto in 2006, where all the works were sold, including an exhibition in Dubai. But if your question is what I would have changed if it were possible, I can now see more clearly. The answer is that I would give up all that I was doing and just paint. Not because I was a better painter – which I might have been, but because I had a better time! Painting has always given me the right answer. it has always been my support and he has responded in the worst and best situations I have ever had. As a result, I should not have painted as much as I did with other works, and I should have allowed myself to be just a painter. What always worked so well, and still does, needed more work and praise. But I don't think I was a very good painter. If I count my work from the age of 18, I have drawn over 3,000 paintings so far!
I have not been very small, but the reason why I have had few exhibitions goes back to other circumstances. The fact is that as a painter I did not try to keep my paintings to myself. I always thought that when a job is done, it is a message that should reach the people and its people. As a result, I sold the work immediately. My financial situation has always been such that I really needed to sell my job. As a result, I did not have the opportunity to collect the works for a year and then have an annual exhibition. This was not a good thing because it is possible to comment on a painter's collection at the annual exhibition, and I tore it to pieces. If I want to comment on the year 1986, for example, there is no collection that I can put together and comment. So, something bad has happened in this regard.
On the other hand, I always had the feeling that exhibiting, opening, attending and all that is a kind of demand for praise, and it was not very smooth for me. Maybe it somehow prevented me from attending a ceremony where my collection of paintings was on display and I…
Sitting at your feet...
Aydin Aghdashloo: Yes, and what a correct sentence. What a correct sentence. Before the revolution, graphic work provided me with financial life, and after the revolution, painting and graphic work classes. Especially after the revolution, all the galleries were closed for a long time and I was banned from leaving for a few years. All these went hand in hand so that the clear and reasonable process that exists in the display of works does not take place in my work. But painting was still not my only source of livelihood for a long time. The price of my paintings – so that I could rely on the sale of paintings – took a long time to increase, but even until the last minute I still had a painting class and still earned money from other jobs such as an expert to manage my life. In this respect, I was very different from other people who were professional artists – such as Parviz Tanavoli, a sculptor and professional painter who lived this way. I worked in graphics and teaching for a long time and earned my living through painting. Therefore, it was not necessary to set up an exhibition and earn a living, or even to sell my paintings.
Being versatile, or having a painter with writing talent, do graphic work, teach, and leasing these assets as a service, naturally expands a person's range of power and dominance. How appealing was that to you and how much did you know about it?
Aydin Aghdashloo: It was both fascinating and informative. Of course, this was always a point that went up and down in my mind. Doesn't the fact that I have so much myself engage in different knowledge cause my main knowledge, painting, to be overshadowed and slowed down? I still haven't found a very definite answer for it. Normally, everyone believed that it was better to focus on my painting. Once, Dr. Jamshid Lotfi jokingly or seriously told me, "Aydin, can I ask you not to paint and just write?" And I said, "dear Jamshid, if you allow me to paint one or two sometimes, I need money!" (With smile). This question has always been asked. For me, it may have created problems and shortages only in terms of number and quantity, because when one engages oneself in 5-6 areas, the quantity of one's work is damaged and not necessarily the quality of one's work.
I admit that if I had only focused on painting, I might have painted more. Now know what the use of it is if I painted more?! However, I did several things together: I did cultural management, I painted, I wrote more than 8 volumes of books, being an art expert for traders, I taught, I was conservator of art works and so many other works... not one or two. I can go on this list for a very long time. But all of these were just parts of my concern. If I was teaching, it was because I tried to make up for the gaps in my life that I had never been taught properly, and to guide those who needed to be cared for. That is, to follow my preferred form of teaching that was withheld from me. Or if I did graphic work, it was because of an accident, but it was a pleasant accident. Later I thought that graphics are the living language of our contemporary world and why not turn my life this way?
The same goes for the rest of the issues. If I accepted cultural management, it was because I was madly in love with old works of art and old buildings. From the age of 14, I went to the Museum of Ancient Iran and designed from old objects. I thought it would not be far off, if I sponsored the construction of several museums, and I did. I want to say that all of these, to some extent except the graphics, was based on my endless concerns. I was a very busy child and constantly reading books. I watched and flipped through everything that was spectacular. I did not have a prosperous economic situation. I have always written this and there is no loss of dignity at all. As a result, I had dozens of concerns together.
I mostly argue that the opposite effect of these activities on each other. I have jokingly or seriously said that a person who writes criticism cannot paint because he is constantly struggling with himself and his mind is lost in his hands and practical experience...
Aydin Aghdashloo: Yes that is right, it makes the work more difficult
Let me give you an example. There is a friend who used to write reviews and analyse. He has a gallery today. It is no longer possible to take his job or his pen seriously.
Aydin Aghdashloo: I understand this example. To say that is a joke maybe your friend has nothing more to say! But in fact it is a lot. A good example is Fereydoun Av, who is both a prolific and reputable painter and a very good gallery owner, as well as doing dozens of other different works together. These do not always have a deterrent effect on each other. I think to myself that this fragmentation has had a positive effect on me. I mean, if I wasn't so attached to the history of art and 15th century Italian art, what would I draw at all? I was just drawing the Garden of Malek!
It seems that different works scatter people, but if I look through my picture book once a year, I think my paintings come from other works that I like and pursue. Wherever I went and looked at it, it later had an undeniable effect on my painting. My painting owes a great deal to this curiosity and fragmentation.
A lot has been written, criticized and commented on by many of all your generations and even the younger ones, but few people write about Aydin Aghdashloo. I think some of that is because of your versatility. That is, they may not get along with Aghdashloo out of a sense of danger.
Aydin Aghdashloo: This may be. I myself have done a lot in this field and I have written about almost everyone who was my age. I also wrote in detail. Perhaps it is the beginning of the articles I wrote in 1963 in the magazine "Andisheh Honar". This is something I wish I had not pursued. In response to the question of what I would change in my life if it was possible, this is one of them. The result was that I appeared in the role of a witness of my time: Because of the long life I had and the kind of life I had with everyone. These issues put me in a position where I did not want to. I have written a lot about people I think I was a better painter or writer than! This is my personal judgment and I have reasons why, I do not want to say here.
So I forced myself to write criticism, which was later demanded, and I did not say no. If I could renew my life, I would have left out this part of witnessing the era; It had nothing to do with me wanting to witness my time! Neither my memories of people nor my judgments about them have anything to do with anyone. It has nothing to do with me. I made a mistake. I wasted my time. I made time for people much older and much younger than myself. It was the job of writers and journalists like Javad Mojabi, who has done very well in the long run. This was not my job and I will not do it again. It's too late to start cleaning up for myself. I mean saying 'No'. Saying 'no' to something that has been missed and I must write about it and make up for it! But it is not my business? Neglected, who cares?
It is the fault of the society that has not been able to cover all the people and determine the share of each one. What does it matter to me if society has not been able to determine a place for the art historian and assign him to the right person? It's not my job. I have to paint more of myself. But I cannot judge why others did not write about me. Maybe the point you made is true. Maybe there are other points as well, such as thinking that it is not time yet and they want to do it in time! Or maybe they just think I don't have that position yet. Thoughts they may do! I am not its guarantor! If others have underestimated me, I have not underestimated others. I have sacrificed myself for everyone. If this is a shortcoming or a lack of compassion, or it has always been a stand against me, fine, I can do nothing to change it. Right now, one of my frustrations is that some of my old friends and colleagues are silent these days, not telling the truth it is Heart bricking. I won't mention their names either.
I think there are expectations in opportunities and benefits that define your situation, and this equation is now a confusing mess that adds to the intensity and complexity of the story.
Aydin Aghdashloo: No, it is not a complex at all. If everyone does what they have to do right, the shape of the world around us will change a lot, if it is done right. We usually develop our complexities and own disabilities then inadequacies in other contexts and wrap ourselves in other quilts, bypassing them and justifying ourselves. It is not right for a society to remain silent in the face of lying and slandering its own upbringing and the right of the person who raised it, and to assume that the person himself is an expert and that he can handle it and respond to unjust people. It never happens. This will not happen if society does not do its job.
Anyway, now that I've gone through a stage and reached peace again, I no longer want to go back to my past and be a useful service to my community! The story is not to say that later they realize that they have lost a gem! Not, later, they do not realize what a gem they have lost! Maybe because there was no gem at all! Anyway, yes, they did. For any reason; among the reasons you said, among the reasons I said and among the reasons I did not say! However, you will not ask me for the answer to this empty hole. It is not my responsibility!
Hasn't this always been the way a person deals with society? For example, Ferdowsi has been working for 30 years and writing a book that is a reference to Iranian history, myth, and language, but the book eventually becomes a gift to a sultan. It is given as a gift to the force or power. These days, the routine of dealing with the source of force or power is not much different and only its gender has changed.
Aydin Aghdashloo: Ferdowsi does not write a book, he wrote the "book"! But what difference does the gender of power make? Power is always the use of force in the form and under the pretext of expediency. This trade-off with power, of which Ferdowsi is a good example, has always been. The artist used to be a member of the artisan class. The meaning of the artist did not exist after the French Revolution. The artist was an artisan and had to be hired somewhere. This image of an independent artist without a trade-off with wealth and power is a new image that is not more than 200 years old.
You look and see that Michelangelo, Da Vinci and all the artists of the previous generation have been subjected to trade with power and wealth. The artist himself had no power. Not yet. When you read Hafez's poems, you see that in many of his sonnets he refers to the king of his time. When I was talking to Dariush Shaygan, he mentioned something correct as a reference and it remained in my mind. He said the names they bring are invoices. He recited his lyric for the sake of his own heart and now he is sending his receipt to the king to pay his monthly salary! This is very true. Now they may have written a poem about a person, but it is not in general. The whole point is that he was reciting poetry for himself. We go from an era to an independent artist. But we cannot extend the achievement of the last 200 years to the fifth century! Not true. That means, we ignore the resulting combination and give it a generality that does not work everywhere.
When it does not have answer, we start stigmatizing him and saying that it was like this and that. He sold itself and it was flattering. Yes, Sanai, as a poet, did not usually praise the ruler of the time. Or Attar, which is a historical look. We must look at history with a historical perspective. But the independent artist is slowly emerging; An artist who has nothing to do with sources of power. There is still no artist who has decisive importance and power. It can only gain power from society and the people. Therefore, it is not the source of power itself. But he became an independent artist from a period, especially from the Great French Revolution, with the role and contribution of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and many philosophers. That means more independently in terms of work, in terms of the audience and in terms of the market to which it delivers work, and this independence of action has remained to this day.
Now, if we deal with this issue correctly, many questions will be answered. If the artist had to offer that unique book to Sultan Mahmud in Ferdowsi's time, he would actually be getting paid for his work and life. But that does not mean selling yourself. Ferdowsi's Shahnameh is against Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni! In other words, the element of reviving ancient Iran and the Iranian spirit and meaning is so rich that if Sultan Mahmud had the right intellect, he would have understood that this collection is basically against him and his gang. Therefore, Ferdowsi has finally done his job independently. Our great artists have maintained their independence in their work, but they have also sent the bill. They were sent the bill because the king of the time was the source of wealth distribution. If he sends a living expenses for a child slave, a caretaker, and a secretary, why not send a living expenses for a poet who is obliged to be employed in the system? But the poet did his job and in some places he said the opposite of the king and sent his bill to the king too! The same is true in the miniatures of the Mongol period. Painters and calligraphers created exquisite Shahnameh that were anti-Turanian. They also paid him to receive curses!
The position of power and coercion has shifted over the last 30-40 years, and at least in the last 20 years, with the advent of the Internet, public media and the value of personal opinion. Previously, the article of Karim Emami for a magazine was available for at least a month and the reader had the opportunity to digest it. These days, anyone can be a credible or yellow media through the internet. Twitter is an example in which the opinion and the topic of discussion are changed every minute…
Aydin Aghdashloo: It's not important. I have seen many things. These should be talked about in their place. You should not be afraid of these professions and not be so afraid of the angry crowd. What remains is the originality of meaning and opinion. The originality of the opinion is affected. You made a speech that was very interesting to me. It was about people having different opinions. Those who forgive Forough Farrokhzad (Before revolution's show man) for his way of life are the ones who break the tombstone of Ahmad Shamlou! I knew Forough Farrokhzad closely he was good friend of mine. There are various things being said about Forough Farrokhzad, most of which I do not think are true. Those who break gravestones also come from a tradition that is an older tradition and they do not know its roots if you ask. These are the traditions of Shah Ismail Safavid and older, who ordered the tombs of the kings of Shervanshahs to be dug and their bodies to be burned. This is a long-standing tradition. Where did the cursing of Pedar Soukhteh (the burnt father) come from? That is, someone's father was taken out of the grave and burned! It goes back to the actions of Shah Ismail Safavid, which I like him very much, but this behaviour cannot be accepted.
You talk about power and coercion, but you do not make it clear to me what part of power and coercion you mean. What you say about the last 20-30 years or the last 50 years, refers to the power and force that is being exercised between us. Force is a bad thing, but power is not necessarily a bad thing. Power can be exercised in a reasonable way. Right and wrong go back to its philosophical basis. But when we talk about the monopoly of power, then your question makes sense, which is now being challenged by the mobile phones and laptops that are in everyone's hands. I wrote somewhere that the Internet is a great equalizer and everyone really has equal rights. Virtually everyone has the right to vote. Now, if something is challenging, there is no problem. I think the challenge and controversy that follows this dichotomy and confrontation, and the clattering of swords that fall apart, is actually more about our field and our side. In the Western world, neither the social networks nor public opinion that are built in this way, nor those who run the yellow pages to change public opinion, are so intense. But yes, there is a force in our world to challenge anything.
But there is an old rage in this. There are old desires in this, but it seems we do not know how to achieve them. We are in a hurry, but we do not take a specific or positive step towards achieving them, nor do we support anyone who does something.
Aydin Aghdashloo: That is why almost eighty percent of these comments are nicknamed. They happen hidden because they know it costs. But when you work in the press, you do not achieve absolute freedom. You will be responsible for your signature. You are not going to hide and throw stones, but you will have to accept the consequences. So the part you are concerned about is not the enduring part. These Instagram games can never act on the strength and power of the press, because the names are pseudonyms and anyone can say anything they want without taking responsibility and then hide or secure themselves. Whereas if you put your name as a critic in a magazine article, you cannot delete it. These are controversies that seem terrifying, but because of their essence and type and gender, the press is not stable and social media is taking place, yes. This is true. The press is disappearing and the arena is falling into the hands of pseudonymous writers, and this could open the door to obscene hell.
An example I use in private conversations with friends is the image of the Wild Beasts in the Serengeti land of Africa, where when it is their migration season, they pass and destroy trees, rocks, lions, leopards, rabbits and everything. They reach a river full of crocodiles and inflict casualties, and they pass and leave, leaving behind only a ploughed land. My question is: is there a way to avoid side effects?
We will definitely have casualties. I want to point out the power of culture, which is one of the highest powers, but has this power been injected into culture, or culture itself, which has expanded in many directions? Has possessed this undeniable power? This is a very important issue. An example that has always been on my mind is the case of Hollywood in American culture over the last hundred years. Hollywood slowly took shape and cinema became an undeniable tool. Dariush Shaygan did not err in pointing out that American cultural influence was sown by Hollywood after World War I and exercised its unparalleled power. Fifty percent of American Way of Life was practiced by Hollywood, its great writers and directors. A man on the other side of the world in Shanghai or Tokyo put his Humphrey Bogart–style hat on his head.
The American way of life was considered, at the same time it was full of problems. America became a model in an era in which one of the worst periods of working class oppression and the ugliest period of human exploitation had already taken shape. I want to say America, America became America because of Hollywood! This sentence may seem one-sided. That is, one seems to overlook industry, inventions, academia, and exploration in 1920s and beyond. No it is not, The American way of life and the fact that this way of life can be a good example created by Hollywood.
They formed the image of a Utopia…
Aydin Aghdashloo: Yes, they defined the utopia according to their own narration. This is the power of culture. Where does our culture stand? Where does European culture stand? How far has American culture come after its scandals of the last four years? Is this culture falling and degenerating? Is the model of this culture Mr. Donald Trump? What a great man Mr. Trump is sitting in! Where is Abraham Lincoln, who is also a Republican? The power of culture is a great power, but like any great power, it has its ups and downs, its rise and fall. In many places, the power of culture is superior to official power. Hollywood power has operated throughout the presidency of the United States and has been independent in many places. When John Ford made "Clusters of Anger," did he make a government film? No, it was Hollywood power that wanted to act anti-capitalist and set a neutral model for the international community. If this is the power of culture, and governments are aware of the power of culture, then it is formed under the pressure of government on artists, and subsequently on women and minorities.
Because governments realise this power and its esoteric and internal possibilities, and as a result they put a lot of pressure on the culture to overthrow and turn it in favour of party ideologies, expediencies and everything else. This is where I was reminded of Otto Scola's "A Special Day," which is a beautiful film, and I have cited it several times. In this film, Sophia Loren is a woman who has several children and has to take care of them. Her husband went to Hitler to welcome him to Rome. While Sophia Loren is undressing on the roof, Marcello Mastroviani, a left-wing intellectual, meets and talks, and the woman realizes her position. At the end of the film, which takes Mastrovians away, we find that the Italian fascists are putting equal pressure on artists, intellectuals and women. That is, they fall into one category, and this is where artists and intellectuals have to understand the position of women and realize that they are on an equal footing.
But on the other side of the world, companies like Mercedes Benz have defined the automotive industry, and all of them have come a long way from building Moto cars to modern cars. The same is true in the field of art, and everyone has steadily progressed step by step throughout their careers, and they have an infrastructure that, if the artist assumes his power and position for any reason, his fruit will not be lost. Like Michael Jackson, whose pajama's were set on fire, but there was a structure that replaced dozens of others, and that his character file was archived separately from his work file. I think we have not reached that stage yet, and it is dangerous for us that the total number of prominent and active people in the field of our art or culture does not reach a hundred.
Aydin Aghdashloo: It is true. You see, I have not been a cultural planner for a long time and I handed over this flag for years! But I have my own worries, and one of them is my afraid that I will see every generation of our young people weaker in terms of work power and creativity than the previous generation. This fear may be out of place. I am afraid that we will constantly witness the decline of the quality of achievement and the rise of obscenity! Of course, the time prochain should not be forgotten. But if we look at this part correctly, maybe our future escape should be searched in the same field. The fortunate thing that has happened is, for the first time in human history, not only have everyone had an equal vote, but they can vote in three seconds; From one person to one hundred million people!
However, those who are cultural planners should see how these sparse and transient professions that pass through the sky like a meteor can reach a radiant ray and force. That's not my job. This may not be a personal problem, but its side effects are definitely there. Now aside from the individual cost, we say that Aydin Aghdashloo has to pay the cost of his performance in order to be unaccounted for. For example, there was a lot of talk about Forough Farrokhzad. I remember mentioning his rumours and immorality always following his name, but eventually society reached a point where they could separate his work from his character. Today's generation memorising his poetry on their head, and the immoralities that were considered a big mistake and sin have also become a common pattern and a symbol of Forough Farrokhzad's freedom and not being involved in restrictions. I do not know whether I am commenting on your behalf or not, but don't you think so because we do not have the social infrastructure, patience and perseverance, we are constantly involved in unintended consequences.
If this is our view, then we conclude that our culture has already inherited fundamental flaws for growth and development, and those who are obliged to do something about it; Philosophers, economists, culturists and planners, They must guide in the right direction to eliminate this shortcoming. But it is not true to say that Forough was immoral. Forough was in love. I was lucky enough to associate with Forough Farrokhzad for a while. You said that Forough Farrokhzad has achieved her right, but I do not believe so. Not only do I not believe so, but I think that even if the truth about Forough Farrokhzad has been realized, there is no strike on Parvin. Parvin Etesami is a very good poet. I have always written and said this and in my lectures about Forough Farrokhzad, I have mentioned Parvin Etesami.
This goes back to what we see the meaning of the poet in. If we search for the meaning of the poet in recounting her dreams and in recounting the world in which he lives, then Forough Farrokhzad did it, Parvin Etesami did it too. Parvin Etesami was a woman enclosed in her own house and recited the highest poems full of her noble wishes and desires within the framework of her own home. I am not saying that the poet should stay at home, but Parvin Etesami recounted her meaning and Forough Farrokhzad recounted her meaning too.
When a person gains power because of his position, he will naturally have a series of benefits. What power and expectations do you think your position in the arts has given you?
Aydin Aghdashloo: In our society, especially in a society where there is so much deprivation and despair, if anyone reaches a position in any way, it can be inferred as "power". And it certainly matters how this position is used. It is a big responsibility. One of the reasons I started lecturing and teaching was to share of my knowledge with others. I have never abused this position. At least consciously I never used it. Maybe I got the love of the community because of it, but it was nothing more. But I have no power. I have absolutely no power. I do not know a cleric, I do not know an army, I do not know a military, I do not know a working statesman! I do not know anyone in power and I am left alone. But power must be defined.
One definition of power is that we are, for example, in favour of a formal ideology, and another is the power of today's media. The power of the media is huge now. An example is when I was asked to complain to the New York Times about the lies they wrote. Many people said do not get into this category because the New York Times has millions of dollars of insurance behind an unprofessional reporter and his ignorant work! That's it, if you sue and the claim is proven in court NYT will get rid of the same millions of dollars of insurance! Of course, I do not have the money to pay for a lawyer, a court, and so on. What do you want to do with this power? What can be done with that power which is abusing its own tools?
I am referring more to personal power than force. I have known you for thirty years and I still get stressed when I pass by you. Because I know someone is there who is focused and I need to be focused. Not necessarily out of fear, but I know that in the face of some kind of Aydin I may underestimate. It is the same every time I see Goli Emami, Parvaneh Etemadi or Lily Golestan.
Aydin Aghdashloo: I have found the right word to replace it – the "respect". What is remarkable is the volume of this respect, which is also due to the fact that I have been a member of the surrounding society, and it is the surrounding society that is affirmed and respected. I think my problem has always been that I wanted to be an independent artist. Not only was I powerless, but more persecuted because I was independent. Different governments that have not been kind to me. No government signed any contract with me after the revolution. The only contracts were for teaching at universities. Recently, I saw the gentleman who apparently writes a blog in New York mentioned that he has evidence of my rent-seeking! I laughed a lot and said to myself that maybe my rent-seeking includes renting a brush and a subsidised eraser! No, I was banned from leaving the country for 4-5 years at the beginning of the revolution and I have not been employed in any government agency until today. I was not allowed to work. They never asked me for a service. The revolution had declared the year of zero against me and others like me, who were generations before the revolution. There was a revolution and an era was established that does not want me and us!
Revolution did not want to ask us anything because we were the result of a period when the revolution was against that period, it did not want to use us. Even use it properly. Less happened. At least I do not remember. If I did not speak somewhere, it was not at the request of the "government", It was requested by those and students who asked me to speak. Some of these lectures took place in halls purchased or built by the government. It was as if I had to speak for the grass! So were the universities. They were also the legacy of governments. I also taught at universities. Almost everyone taught. I thought to myself that my days were over and a new era had been established, then the governments came and thought they should give wings to their own forces.
I once joked that the issue of my relationship with the governments is in the form of divorce with the satisfaction of both parties: two people go to court and say we cannot live together and the divorce is going on! There is no turbidity. But now is a very difficult, complicated period and the artist, the thinker, and the intellectual are expected to take a stand. So I had no power, and this forgery of power is for me only to turn this fake title into a shield and put me behind it and say that this shield cannot be crossed! They attribute their false claims to this story. However there is no shield that I can hide behind.
An example is that they have fabricated an issue that I am cooperating with Astan Quds Razavi! This is so funny. In this case, the government must have suffered a strange turmoil, because on the one hand I am banned from television and nothing is broadcast from me, and on the other hand I am from the body politic! Well, this is the problem of those who spread these traps. But this challenge is one of the most ridiculous. I have been to Mashhad four or five times in my life. Once at the invitation of a teacher who invited me to give a lecture in his class, and three times at the invitation of the Institute of Artistic Creations. One of the rains was to visit the famous and unique Timurid Qur'an in the handwriting of Ibrahim Sultan - the grandson of Timur - in the treasury of Astan Quds, a specimen of which is kept in major museums around the world, such as the Metropolitan of New York.
It was once to visit the printed version of this book that came with my introduction. Once I had to speak about traditional art in the private classes of the institute where traditional art students work. These were the three times I appeared in this series. I was very surprised when I saw this accusation. I asked how much money they gave me for these three sessions. His former manager - who was no longer in charge there because the institute did not work at all during the new management of Astan Quds - said that he had received 15 million Toman for these three sessions.
This is my collection of cooperation with Astan Quds. But on the part of the hypocrites and planners, they finally had to tell a straight story. That I have warm support for Astan Quds Razavi! Astan Ghodsi, none of the second or third grade managers had even heard my name because their work was in another field. They made a false claim that I was dependent on them, and because I was dependent on them, I'm making them afraid that some people would not sue me because I'm part of government. I declare here that anyone who has a complaint against me must do so, and I welcome it.
I am not a different person, I am not a single person and I am not a role model fighter. I'm an ordinary person, and I'm sure I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, but not the ones New York Times article and the source blogger lied about. These are documents and forgeries so that they can cover another purpose with it. The goal is to remove me. Each of these goals has its own characteristics. I am certainly not a perfect person, but I tried to remain independent at all costs and by all means. I have stood up and done my job. They have also asked me questions and I have answered many different questions. I have been interrogated many times about my thoughts and what my position is. But I have never depended on any power or ruler. If I worked, it was for the sake of the people and not at the behest of transitory governments. I have always tried to be independent and I am independent. Recently, I have been asked a lot to take a stand and state my position. I have never been like this. I think everyone is definitely political because they think what is right and what is wrong, but there are people who create organizations for this mentality and create law and principles and the party. I was not. I was not an organization. As a result, I was not a "politician" but I was "political" like everyone else. I do not have to say my political theory. That I have to state my position is a matter for Jean-Paul Sartre. The existentialist Sartre had to state his position. But he was always reluctant to say that I was an existentialist.
Sartre lived and worked what I love: He spoke in the novel "Nausea". Most of Sartre's books on existentialism are scattered portions of him. Sartre always thought he wanted to be just a writer and just a novelist, he also had his own political views. But if he could not write enough novels, it would be Sartre's problem and the problem of the society of that period and the problem of the Paris student uprising! I have always thought that if I have an opinion or a basis for speaking, then I should express my opinion on what I know best, and otherwise why should I start saying what is the best economic solution? What do I know? I'm not doing that. But I can talk about man. This is my field.
I do not believe in censorship. I believe that there should be freedom of expression. I believe that if a person is censored, he will slowly censor himself, and a person who censors himself will become dumb. What good is a dumb person to an evenly-minded society? Castration does not benefit anyone. I believe in the freedom and equality of the people equality of men and women. You may ask me, who says you believe in these freedoms? My answer is what I say. Because of my work. Go and look at my paintings. See how many paintings I have drawn about suffering and injured human beings. Where did the "Memories of Destruction" series of paintings come from? What are memories of destruction? Memories of building destruction?
No, if the building, bowl, line, or miniature is destroyed, it is the sign of a person behind it. So in my work I say all these things. If someone tells me you lived to be 80 years old and what you achieved, I say go and flip through my books. It's very simple. Art must be indirect. Now, if someone does not understand indirect art, it is no longer my fault. I have done all my work. I have talked a lot about women. The same women of the Italian Renaissance. The same women who lived in Europe that did not have the right to vote until a hundred years ago. I'm still killing them. I am still the same person. No one can tell me that I do not believe in the equality of human beings. No one dares to claim that I have disregarded the position of women throughout history.
If I draw 40 paintings of "Memories of Destruction" and "Riddle", 30 of them are about women. I have killed men who have been exposed to destruction much less than women. So how can anyone claim to have been indifferent to the historical fate of women? I have always thought that an artist's job is to express his position in his work. I am not a political orator to stand and declare my position on good and evil, right and wrong, and economic systems! But I have stated my position in my work. I have stated my position very carefully and I always talk about the human situation.
Trade with power or force is always an issue. For all the reasons you gave, you had established an equation before the revolution. After the revolution, however, there was debt. I will not repeat the yellow charges, but you have had an interaction with the centre of power.
Aydin Aghdashloo: No trade with any government. I have done valuable cultural work that has benefited the people in the long run. From the beginning of the revolution, there have been artists who have sacrificed independence for the sake of expediency, but I have not traded with power, I have traded with people; I have trained thousands of students. These have changed the face of Iranian culture.
We have probably had a kind of political-activist romanticism for decades, and it has been defined that if you are like Samad Behrangi, you are the right person, and if not, you are considered Shaban Jafari. I mean, the story is a bit black and white.
Aydin Aghdashloo: This is not a new definition. This is the author's commitment theory that the artist must commit to. Well, Jalal Al-Ahmad was one of them and many were not. It was a wave that came and left its mark. I have no dispute about this. I can only talk about myself. I cannot recommend about others. Before the revolution, one might think that working in the government apparatus might be fruitful and that one might build several museums. I thought so too, but now I do not think so. Not! I have given the result of my work to the people. I mean, have I been in the hands of governments? Not. The good that went to government from me before the revolution is a thousand times more. My salary was lower than my secretary's salary. What I own? Correct this about me: I did not owe anything to any government. I did not have it after the revolution. We are both satisfied. The government is reluctant to ask me for anything because what I have is not to its liking otherwise why should I be banned from leaving and interrogated without any error and because of my thoughts, should I be questioned again and again? This is not a sign of satisfaction with me. They are not bad people if they are satisfied with anyone. These can be justified people and they may not be. It is their relationship to power.
A filmmaker who wants to make any film that the government wants or enjoys government privileges can make a bad film, can make a nonsense film, and can make a good film. Before the revolution, I built museums that did not exist before me. I founded the Reza Abbasi Museum. In the post-revolutionary days, the only favour I received was that I endured being a painting teacher, and that was it. I have not received anything in this regard. These false lies that were told were not fair. I do not want to pray, but I do not own any property.
If we want to enter the discussion of proving or disproving the accusation, we will not succeed. But you have been accused, which there must be a court for listening to you too, which seems to be impossible. But now a romantic-activist has emerged, what in the face of the current Iranian civil society (From the issue of hijab to the issue of where is my vote) what in the private and personal issues and tools of Internet expression. Before, if something was published in a magazine or newspaper, you could answer in the next issue and confirm or deny a claim. The mass media space is so vast that if a claim is made and then you want to deny it, it seems useless. What to do with this media and this new tool of power?
Aydin Aghdashloo: It does not concern me. I am eighty years old. What the Internet kids want to do next is up to their generation. It's not my story. My story is that I have been exposed to a great injustice. A person who has no direct or indirect relationship with power has been exposed to the ugliest slander in order to be eliminated. The letter of my deeds is a witness. A man who has drawn thousands of paintings, has about 15 volumes of books, given hundreds of lectures and taught thousands of students.
I try not to speak as someone who knows you. I neither take the charges seriously nor deny them which is another process. Basically, I believe that you do not need defence and support. I want to see more of where we are today, and perhaps two contrasting images will summarize my point. It was a picture of the last moments standing the statue of the king on horseback in the middle of Artillery Square (Statue of Reza Shah in Tehran city centre) was being pulled down by the force and anger that we know where it originated from. Later, they replaced it with a republican emblem after forty years now, the emblem has been lost, lost in the midst of crowds and air pollution. There is nothing left of the Artillery Square and no one remembers at all what its function in the city was.
On the other hand, a report on the Ukrainian revolution and the overthrow of Yanukovych showed that a revolutionary and armed group had set out to conquer the dictator's palace. Everyone was standing behind the glassed entrance of the palace so that the key maker who was with them could unlock it without damage. They did not break even one glass! Now I do not know what happened to Yanukovych Palace, but the end is certainly not like our Artillery Square. Apart from the right or wrong positions, what do you think can be done with this changing world and new waves that are intertwined? Because apparently from now on, all the factors are always together ... especially on the Internet!
Aydin Aghdashloo: I have no predictions about the chaotic world around me, after myself. In case of the Internet, I can say: the Internet, like any device, can be used both correctly and incorrectly. If something is to be done, it must be about the proper use of the Internet. I wish people would pause when they want to say something and to direct this terrible rage that has gripped everyone in terms of its creator and in terms of questions and answers and discourse. There is no doubt about a great anger, and this anger is understandable. As long as people do not have a tribune, their tribune becomes an internet where they can attack anonymously. It would be nice to see what they can do to make good use of it, but because we have no educational or cultural tools in this area and no school does, it seems a far-fetched result. But like you, I hope we learn what to do. The Internet has been a good thing for me personally because I follow a lot of young Iranian artists through the Internet. I do not know many of them. I follow the art of the world in the same way.
Why there is an expectation from artists to be a political and social activist as well? Do you think artist should crawl in his/her safe and professional corner?
Aydin Aghdashloo: I do not consider myself in this position to be a role model and give advice. If it was Jalal Ale Ahmad, he would have explained it in great detail! But I give the example of an activist artist and writer like Maxim Gorky, whom Stalin loved very much, even though he is known to have been submerged! Gorky was a committed political writer, but I still look for his core work in his literature rather than his ideologies. Gorky spoke for himself in his novels. His book "Mother" is a kind of recommended balance. I do not like Gorky himself, but I can cite him as someone who has worked in this direction. Or Sartre himself - as I said before.
But Gorky is a man who balances his political and social life. He is both a political and social activist and in the safe corner of his profession. I think about myself that I have reached a kind of balance in my mentality and in my work and I am an activist. I usually express myself in my work. My legs hurt a lot and I had surgery on my back which means I can hardly even get to bed. So I'm not an activist to go and spread the word like Sartre! Now they may say if you are not an activist then write it down. Well, I'm not doing that either. Sorry! I know for myself what is good and what is not, but I do not have an immediate solution for it at the same time, I am independent in my work. Anyone who does not like my work can swear, no problem.
What effect do you think 'I, a compatriot' has on the psyche of the next generation of women?
Aydin Aghdashloo: I do not object to the fact that in this movement - which is probably supposed to act spontaneously - people are mistakenly dragged in the middle so that the movement finally settles down and its voice is heard. We are talking about a historical oppression that has befallen women for centuries, and if this movement continues and it is a long one, And not just by a few scattered complaints, That is why inequality is happening in incredible forms, So much so that even we do not realize what inequality and widespread oppression we take for granted. In the meantime, let us not forget that in this regard, we must be aware of a field called "custom". There is a custom. What do we want to do with it?
The point I want to make is that now the task of our women is somewhat clear. They have traveled to space with their own money, Nobel laureates, they are managers. An Iranian woman can no longer be held in a closet. But what is the task of our men in the middle? The set of accusations that have been brought against me, sticks to any male creature, not even to any Iranian man! What is the middle of our task that we are dealing with our deep and deep-rooted problems? Because if we are going to escape from the hoof of a horse, we will go under the hoof of another horse, which we have just changed the horse, and the pain is still there. What if we avoid the issue of gender at all? Is it not possible to side with a person? Must someone ransom for sex?
Our men have done so much sabotage throughout history that now there is no problem if they suffer even a little bit! But I want to respond once again to the slanders that have been leveled at me. The fact is that for about 5-6 years, I and perhaps more than a hundred people from the culture and arts of the country have been exposed to widespread slander and obscenity by a yellow blogger living in New York. Where these slanders come from are a detailed discussion. But in my case, the type of accusation has been far from rational and far-reaching. I was accused of anything that could come to anyone's mind. It was even stated that my father's photo is not my father's photo!
According to Joseph Goebbels, if you keep telling a big lie, people will believe it. These blind and accumulated insults caused discomfort to my family, friends, and those around me, beside my collection of cultural services, which is not insignificant, was completely denied. The story went on, and two or three times a month a new invention was presented, and an unsubstantiated slander was made. This person does not appear in any court in Iran or the United States and lives in secret. One of these texts even referred to my death and the scene of my death as a sign of the author's strong desire to imagine me dying!
It was no longer a social "revelation," but the embodiment of an unbridled personal grudge. Everyone was accused of something. For example, a cultural director was accused of stealing from a museum or a calligrapher forging or copying from his own line. It was clear that there was a goal here to eliminate targeted artists. This removal also included a financial removal as they had announced, the market for the sale of some calligrapher has been reduced to zero or the sale of some poet and songwriter to absolute unemployment. I did not respond to these allegations. I have not mentioned anyone anywhere so far. But in designing the removal plot, for various reasons, it seemed that any kind of accusation was permissible. Gradually, the severity of these accusations increased to sexual slander. The slanders were full of contradictions, and these contradictions gradually became apparent. But this false dough became the tool of the Iranian reporter of the New York Times to give it wings. The author of the article himself has mentioned this dependence and connection. But the situation with the charges was not the same. Two or three people denied it, the rest did not have an identity and maintained anonymous. In order to justify why they do not have a name and why they do not complain about me - so far not a single complaint has been filed against me - they told the irrelevant story of my connection to power without any documents. From this moment, it opens in Pandora's Box...
So, why you didn't answer at that time and maintained quiet?
Aydin Aghdashloo: It is better to return to the "me too" movement in Iran. I think this movement is honourable because anything that leads to human consciousness is honourable; Man is aware of his own situation, historical place, future and, most importantly, the past. To create a human being who balances himself. To be able to balance all these to make him a contemporary Iranian man. But the rights of Iranian women have been greatly violated. We have had great women in our history. In the fields of literature and art, law, science, social activism and much more. I also consider charity, very important, if you look at the history of Iran, charity managers as a women who were social activists occupy a huge place in heart of people, they became public voice sometimes. This position needs to be clarified and revised with the intention of correcting the future.
I consider this correction important because I think the difference between an artist and a policymaker is in this correction. The policymaker wants to correct right away, an artist will take time and will prove indirect. So this is the position that women have in my opinion, and I am definitely a defender of it. I also grew up in a family where respect for women was a general principle. I have never heard my father raise his voice against my mother. The sanctity of women has been the main sanctity both in my paternal family in the Caucasus and in my maternal family in Tabriz. I said it for you to find out what my position is. My position is not out of fear. I am not afraid of being eliminated. I have been trying to do nothing but painting for a long time. Therefore, my words are not expedient.
The "me too" movement is a very right movement and I support it under any circumstances. Like any human being, I suffer from injustice, lies and slander. A person who has been a servant for a lifetime suffers from being treated like this, but it is still worth it, but only on terms and conditions. Our women are free, first class in society, they offer all-round responsibility my mother was a wonderful example, a being that is always sacred to me. Perhaps in the contemporary world, the social sphere of women has changed. I often thought that with the expansion of their sphere of social activity, their burden would increase, because they still carry the sphere of responsibility of the past.
They have that hard work and at the same time professional and social responsibilities - and what a heavy burden. So are our female artists. I'm proud that some of our best female artists have attended one of my classes, and I consider this to be one of my greatest artistic achievements. I have absolutely not used a word here according to the needs of the time, and this has always been my belief. For the past 40 years, when a new era has begun for our women they have faced other issues and challenges, from the indebtedness of our society to the moments we have said that for thousands of years have not paid enough value to many of our most brilliant women.
You mentioned Forough Farrokhzad. It's not just Forough. She is a good poet of our time, but Jahan Khatoon, Parvin Etesami and Simin Behbahani are also there. All of these are great poets. Whenever I want to look at the complexity of Persian poetry, I look at Simin Behbahani's poetry. It is not only Saeb Tabrizi who has this complexity in his poetry. It's not right to point out that this stage involves more of our men. We need to be aware that we are not going to take advantage of every opportunity that has been given to us throughout history as an "additional possibility." We must exercise equal rights. If somewhere this extra salary is a cause for happiness, we should not be very happy about it because it will not last more than a short time.
We are living in a very changing world right now, where events are momentary, so it is better for our men to realize this themselves and become more self-aware. If they cannot do anything with the extra privileges they have, they should not take advantage of it and their relationship with their wives, mothers and daughters should be based on mutual awareness and respect and pure equality.
Well, the result of silence is that you only add to the ambiguity and overlap of definitions. As an example a fake news about the reconstruction and copying made by you, added difficulty and you said nothing…This is no longer relevant and is a matter of quality and style of your work!
Aydin Aghdashloo: Well, I've been working this way for forty-six or seven years. This method, called derivative artwork or pastiche, It welcomes old work, and I have said it many times before. One of the most famous examples of this style is the work that Marcel Duchamp created in the early twentieth century - 1919 - by working on a print of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and painted beard and moustache on her face. This is obvious to those who know, but the designers of this program of destruction, while illiterate and ignorant, tried to set up a hotchpotch and brought up a painting by a follower of Della Francesca, from which my painting was not taken, but I wanted to use. Recreate the diptych of an era from the various elements of the various paintings of the Renaissance.
I often mention the names of my models in my paintings, such as the one I painted in 1975, entitled "Identity: In Praise of Sandro Botticelli", which is now in the warehouse of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran and has been published in my collection of books. Of course, the adaptation of Renaissance patterns is only part of my repertoire, and I have painted the same number of linear pieces and crumpled miniatures and broken tiles and broken eight-year-old Iranian enamel and Qajar monochromes, and these have been published in my books for 35 years. And are available to everyone.
If one knows the alphabet of modern and postmodern art, does not make such ridiculous discoveries at all, but because the goal is destruction, the planners give the torch of these false claims to the ignorant to heat the oven. I blame myself for not teaching the history of art and the theory of contemporary art in the world for more and longer than these last 50 years, so that this nonsense does not arise…
I do not want to miss raising this last issue. Your work broke the numerical record at auction, and right in the middle of other controversies, the accusation of being connected to the ring of power and gold in the art market was strengthened…And still silence?
Aydin Aghdashloo: This was one of those ridiculous margins for elimination and controversy. What does it matter to me whether they buy my work or not? Once my work was not sold at auction - which I had not just presented - a yellow gentleman in New York started breaking! The work of Iranian artists has already been sold at much higher prices; Parviz Tanavoli for two million and five hundred thousand dollars and Mohammad Ehsaei for one million dollars, both at the Christie's auction. During the ten years and several periods of the Tehran auction, I have personally auctioned very few of my works and have not relied on auction sales. I do not consider it my duty to price and intervene in the sale of my works. But I think the rise in prices for contemporary art is more due to the discovery of the benefits of investing in that area, according to Andy Warhol, "contemporary art will not last if it cannot become capital." But there is still a long way to go before a work of art finds a place equivalent to property and dollars in Iran, and still the price of a work of art - from a piece of Mir Emad calligraphy to a painting by Sohrab Sepehri or Kamal al-Molk - is equal to the price of a room in one of Lavasan palaces or The price of a luxury car on the streets of Tehran!
Expressing anger in this area is fruitless. Ignorance of the world contemporary art market also contributes to this anger and ignorance. When we do not know that the works of David Hackney and Jeff Koons have recently sold for up to 90 million dollars! Of course, it can be said that these categories have nothing to do with us, but it has something to do with the fact that 15 years ago, even the price of one hundred million for the works of Bahman Mohasses was unique. What is the new link between force and relations? So maybe I was not in the "ring" all the time when my paintings were sold for less than the price of the work of my colleagues?!
Last question. What do you think about the situation of people, culture and art from now on? Aside from the individual consequences, will such shock-therapies have a positive effect, or will we always return to the same path as usual after a while?
Aydin Aghdashloo: Which usual path? These ongoing controversies pave the way for personal and group ambitions and narrow-mindedness and resentment. Until they want to achieve a healthier, more useful and more profitable situation by destroying an institution or people. Is there anything other than pure destruction? I would be happy to see a specific program in addition to the populist slogans of "looting and plunder". Trying to destroy the existing Iranian visual arts market is a political act rather than a cultural and artistic one, and probably everyone knows that. But what will happen? Well, I do not know the unseen. But fortunately, I will not be in the middle to remain a witness and observer!