Iranian, b. 1979
Lives and works in New York, NY
Shahpour Pouyan’s work takes inspiration from traditional Iranian craftsmanship and objects of high Persian culture to comment on power, domination and possession, and the ways in which cultural heritages and objects are co-opted by and appropriated for violence and nationalism.
Pouyan’s Projectiles series are created from intricately filigreed Persian military armor and helmets that are still used as costumes in passion plays and religious rituals. The implied violence of these objects are made startlingly explicit as they are transformed into shapes reminiscent of modern military missiles. These large-scale sculptures possess an unsettling tension, underscoring the potential for violence in men, materials, and their engagements that threads the past to the present. His Miniatures similarly draw attention to realities camouflaged by aesthetics. Created after finely detailed illuminations from classical Persian manuscripts, the artist removes human figures to highlight the socio-political realities disguised by historical artists and ignored by contemporary art historians.
Shahpour Pouyan received his BFA and MFA in Painting from Tehran University of Art, Iran; and MFA in New Forms and Integrated Practices from the Pratt Institute, New York. His work has been presented in solo exhibitions at the Barbara Walters Gallery at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, as well as galleries in London, Paris, France, Tehran and Dubai, and in group exhibitions in international institutions including the Rubin Museum, New York, NY (2019); Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada (2016, 2019); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA (2018); British Museum, London, UK (2017); Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey (2016); Grey Art Gallery, New York (2016); and Elgiz Museum, Istanbul, Turkey (2014). He has participated in the Lahore Biennale (2018); Beijing Biennale (2017); Yinchuan Biennale (2016); Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014), and 1st International Roaming Biennial of Tehran (2009). In 2016, he was shortlisted for the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum’s prestigious Jameel Prize 4.