Art Installations/Mahmoud Bakhshi
Music/Mohsen Namjoo, Gladiators (Oy)
2009 MOP CAP Winner
Barbican Centre,London UK
Born 1977, Tehran, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran.
Mahmoud Bakhshi's work directly engages with the political and social issues of contemporary Iran. Drawing on familiar motifs from his home, Bakhshi explores the seemingly arbitrary boundaries and real divisions that inform national identity. After graduating with a BFA in sculpture from Tehran University, Bakhshi has contributed to numerous exhibitions in Iran and internationally. Exhibiting in his home country has caused him to develop a complex range of means to encode any critical perspective. His 2006 solo exhibition, Mahmoud's Driving School at Tehran Gallery, presented a blackly comic translation of the diagrams used to teach right-of-way rules at intersections. Cheerfully coloured cartoons showing red, yellow and blue vehicles negotiating a crossroads were captioned with horrifying descriptions of imminent violence: "The blue truck has right of way. It carries 150kg of explosives and will stop opposite a hospital in the next street."
Iran is an ancient empire whose borders have expanded and contracted throughout history. Bakhshi's work explores contemporary Iran's relationship with this history, as it intersects with both the perceptions of its citizens and those perpetuated by the West. In 2004 he was included in the 11th Asian Art Biennale, Dhaka, Bangladesh and received second prize at the 3rd Tehran Sculpture Biennale in 2002. Recent international exhibitions have included Raad o Bargh, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, 2009; Iran: New Voices, Barbican Centre, London, 2008; and Lion under the Rainbow: Contemporary Art from Tehran, in association with D.ART, Athens, 2008. Exploring issues topical to the current political climate, Bakhshi interrogates the rhetoric of nationality.