Fereydoun Ave, “Shah Abbas and His Page Boy”, Rossi & Rossi (3C Yally Industrial Building, 6 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang), May 27–Jul 29, 2017
"Long regarded as Persia’s most competent ruler, Abbas I was also one of its brutal. This divisiveness serves as subject for Fereydoun Ave’s latest solo at Rossi & Rossi. The exhibition title refers to a 17th-century painting of the Shah being offered wine by a young cup bearer. It is a tender moment, and one that contradicts deeply with narratives of the Shah as a cruel despot who reportedly murdered one son and blinded two other.
"In a way, “Shah Abbas and his Page Boy” is a continuation of Ave’s Rotsam series, where he explores the masculine ideal in traditional Iranian society. Whereas Rotsam placed the “ideal” male hero against a backdrop of big birds and spray paint, here kitschy magazine cut-outs of male wrestlers are plastered atop quilts fashioned from fabrics sourced from Tehran’s bazaar. Rid of their original context, the wrestlers, in various “macho” poses, appear emasculated, becoming a mere side note against the rich textures of the quilt. The faces and bodies of these wrestlers are further obscured by the splatters of red and white paint—a nod also to Cy Twombly, with whom the artist once shared a studio. Here, the “lahaf”, or padded quilt, takes on dual meaning: as much as it warms and comforts, it also covers up and suppresses.
"Amid the contradicting narratives, Ave brings to light the discrepancies of modern Iran: much like the Shah whose benevolent public image belies a more violent streak, the Iranian masculine ideal has long given way to a more estranged narrative." (For more, see link in profile)
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