The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has announced it will devote its entire space to a solo exhibition of the work of the internationally celebrated artist Wim Delvoye.
This remarkable display will be the first time since the revolution that the 38-year-old institution dedicates its complete exhibition space, in- and outdoors, to a non-Iranian artist.
A Belgian neo-conceptual artist, Wim Delvoye is best known for art that cleverly combines philosophical ideas, a fresh use of materials and a love for craftsmanship.
Organized by independent curators Vida Zaim and Leila Varasteh, in collaboration with TMoCA‘s Director Majid Mollanoroozi and Deputy Director Ehsan Aghaei, the select survey offers an overview of Delvoye’s practice—from his Delft patterned shovels and gas canisters of the 1980s to recent aluminum suitcases, which are ornately embossed by Iranian artisans in the city of Isfahan.
In his forward to the exhibition catalogue, Iranian art historian Dr. Hamid Keshmirshekan writes, “Playing with different types of subject-objects relations, from sacred historical buildings and traditional motifs, Delvoye deconstructs and then reconstructs Christian iconography, Islamic ornament and traditional Iranian metalwork by the adaptation of these motifs/forms in a secular context.”
The show features such related artworks as Marble Floors, which ironically simulate the geometry of ornamental floors through the photographic reproduction of slices of ham and salami; and Delvoye’s Gothic Works, laser-cut steel dump trucks, cement mixers and nautilus shells that use the architecture of European Gothic cathedrals to dynamically replicate their forms.
Each of the museum’s galleries offers single or paired series of Delvoye’s works: intricately embossed Rimowa brand suitcases are combined with the aluminum body of an actual Maserati, which was shipped to Iranian artisans to finely embellish with decorative patterns—others show a large installation of Delvoye’s rubber tires that have been beautifully hand-carved with traditional motifs by craftsmen in China.
As he has traveled across Europe, the United States, Asia and the Middle East, Delvoye has always immersed himself in local cultures. “I don’t feel I belong anywhere,” he shared. “I feel like a nomad. So I take inspiration from different cultures, whilst being always very respectful of the places I visit.” Speaking from his studios in Ghent (Belgium) and Brighton (United Kingdom) Delvoye explains his art stems from “a strange mix of my own personal life and larger geopolitical perspectives.”