"Parviz Tanavoli is merging sculpture and poetry in latest VAG exhibition"

By Chandler Walter | Straight

7 July 2023

You might want to make your way over to the Vancouver Art Gallery sometime in the coming months.

The gallery is showing Iranian-born artist Parviz Tanavoli’s “Poets, Locks, Cages”—an exhibit that includes over 100 works created over the course of six decades.

The show features everything from sculpture to painting, and printmaking to mixed media. The poet, the lock, and the cage remain recurring themes throughout, drawing inspiration from Iranian culture, history, and traditions.

“This is a highly significant exhibition, not only for Vancouver and the Vancouver Art Gallery, but for the world. We are contextualizing a lifelong career of art making and thinking,” said Anthony Kiendl, CEO and director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, in a release.

“This is the first time that people in [Parviz’s] adopted city of Vancouver will get to see a comprehensive exhibition of his work brought together in one place at one time. We look forward to sharing it with everyone.”

Tanavoli’s sculptures symbolically speak to Iran’s cultural identities both pre- and post-Islam, highlighting how sacred and secular histories come together to showcase the concept of modernism in Iran.

But one of the exhibition’s highlights actually has to do with a place a little closer to home. The Wonders of the Universe series sees lyrical paintings inspired by Vancouver’s scenery painted into the pages of antique books that the artist discovered in a Tehran bazaar. “Poet, Locks, Cages” at the Vancouver Art Gallery marks the first-ever presentation of the series in Canada, and the largest selection of the paintings ever shown.

Those who want a more in-depth understanding of the artworks can catch a conversation with scholars and curators Dr. Fereshteh Daftari and Dr. Venetia Porter on July 8.

The exhibition will run at the VAG until November 19 and is accessible via regular admission.

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