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Persian traditions in a Western context

— September 2013

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Siah Armajani_City Center #9 Poetry Garden_Los Angeles_1997

Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art is presenting the first major survey in the UK of Iran-born, American artist, Siah Armajani, whose extensive public art commissions around the world include bridges, reading rooms and poetry gardens. This exhibition traces the artist’s oeuvre from his early works on paper, made in Iran during the late 1950s, to his mature works, including his most recent structure, the Alfred Whitehead Reading Room, 2013, specifically created for the outdoor space at Parasol unit, London.

Armajani’s work is rooted in his own Persian cultural heritage, his knowledge of Western philosophy, literature and poetry, and his interest in American vernacular architecture, with which he acquainted himself while studying in the United States in the early 1960s. His early works are distinguished by a poetic use of Persian script, a manipulation of traditional techniques, a singular use of space, and a bold vision that employs various media to serve his artistic intent. The combination of text, idea and the peculiar use of space to be observed in these early works has continued into his mature works, in many of which poetry or a philosophical statement is an important element.

Armajani’s post-art-school works are often astute architectural models, inspired by generic structures and conveying the idea of house or bridge. They have, through his creative process, developed into a unique line of work. In Armajani’s structures the idea always has priority over function. His belief in democracy and open communication as essential requirements for a healthy society, along with his philosophical and political interests, eventually led him to create art in the public realm, for which he is renowned. Throughout his career Armajani has made surprising and thought-provoking connections between architecture, poetry, history, democracy and communication. His works are housed in some of the world’s most important museum collections.

Born 1939 in Tehran, Siah Armajani now lives and works in Minneapolis, MI, USA.

Siah Armajani: An Ingenious World is accompanied by a comprehensive book, published by Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art. A related programme of educational events and workshops, highlighting the Alfred Whitehead Reading Room, will include creative writing, poetry, lectures and, on 19 September 2013, an artist talk with Siah Armajani.

Curated by Ziba Ardalan, Founder/ Director, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art.

Generously supported by Farah and Hassan Alaghband, Kristi Jernigan, Fatima Maleki, Beam Contemporary Art and Prospect Creek Foundation.

Admission to all Parasol unit exhibitions is free

Opening hours: Monday by prior arrangement. Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sunday, 12–5 p.m.

Directions: Old Street tube or Angel tube. Buses: 43, 205 or 214 via City Road

Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art
14 Wharf Road, London, N1 7RW
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7490 7373 ext. 24

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