SARAI Gallery's Year in Review

The year 2022 had its own volatility and challenges in store internationally and at home. Iran, in particular, saw a record-breaking inflation rate followed by the country's biggest social uprising and call for justice and freedom in decades. As part of society, the art community grappled with daily tragedy and despair. We at SARAI, however, were determined not to succumb to the circumstances, but to press on and pursue our visions and goals with resolution as we believe art lies at the heart of a free and flourishing society. And indeed we are both grateful and proud of SARAI's accelerated growth and outreach in the fourth year since its establishment. 2022 saw SARAI Gallery launching its Karavan Projects, bringing shows to the heart of London, organizing another KHOR art prize, returning to The Armory Show, KIAF SEOUL (and PLUS), Abu Dhabi Art, Art Dubai (2023 edition, announced), and Asia Now while appearing for the first time at other top art fair platforms including UNTITLED ART MIAMI, ART BUSAN, and ART FAIR TOKYO 2023 (announced). Here is a look back at SARAI Gallery's programs during 2022:
SOUNDS OF SILENCE | Shiva Noroozi's First Solo at SARAI
17 December 2021 until 5 January 2022, one of the jury's special selections during Khor Art Initiative 2021, Shiva Noroozi (b. 1980) had her first solo exhibition at SARAI Gallery called "Sounds of Silence". Preferring acrylics, Noroozi paints stylized, symbolic, and often solitary figures against warm, serene, and vast landscapes whose meditative states and surroundings seem to echo her own quiet and peaceful existence on an island in southern Iran. The figures' large proportions in comparison to their surroundings invite the notion of the human as a "microcosm" and the universe as a "macrocosm", something that has often been the subject of ancient mythology and cosmology.
GRABBLING | First Karavan Project x INJA Gallery with works by Abbas Nasle Shamloo
Introducing the Karavan Projects, SARAI welcomed the new year by opening "Grabbling", a solo show by artist Abbas Nasle Shamloo (b. 1981), and our first collaborative show with INJA on the eve of December 31st. The Karavan Projects are collaborative shows of works by SARAI artists organized in other cities by select art galleries. "Grabbling" continued at INJA Gallery until January 14, 2022, in the artsy central Tehran neighborhood.
IRANSHAHR | Khor 2021 Winner's First Solo at SARAI
to be introduced to the southern public for the first time! Khor Art Initiative 2021 winner and naïve artist from northern Iran, Ali Saeedi Kenari (b. 1971) also held "Iranshahr" his first solo exhibition at SARAI Gallery, January 14-27, 2022. Saeedi is a self-taught Iranian artist who only started painting in his 40s, leaving his former job to become a full-time painter. His works often consist of a muted color palette, and eerie, apocalyptic landscapes born out of his own imagination. Ali's complex and detailed compositions, which are improvised swiftly, blur the lines between the abstract and the figurative.
IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER | Moslem Khezri's Hybrid NFT Show
As one of the pioneering physical galleries in the region, SARAI hosted both Moslem Khezri's (b. 1984) and the gallery's first hybrid NFT exhibition called "In the Eye of the Beholder". In collaboration with OpenSea, the exclusive exhibition was held by invitation for interested collectors from January 28 until February 11.
One of the Khor Art Initiative's shortlisted artists, Shima Faridani's (b. 1982) favorite medium is watercolor and she envisions fantastical ecosystems of intricate details, reminding the viewer of benign versions of visions by Hieronymous Bosch.
GAZING THROUGH THE CITY | Parham Peyvandi's Debut Solo at SARAI
Parham Peyvandi's series of imagined urban landscapes called "Gazing Through the City" was shown at SARAI Gallery from April 8-22, 2022. Parham Peyvandi (b. 1987) majored in urban design before opting for an MA in painting, and the influence can clearly be traced across his body of works around the subject of the urban environment. "Gazing Through the City" consists of paintings depicting scenes from a city made of bulky, grey cubic forms, devoid of any life or character, in full contrast to the deep blue sky above and vibrant, detailed, and organic forms of the nature around it.
THE PLACELESS PLACE | Mahdieh Abolhasan's Karavan Project x Zargan Power Plant
For its second Karavan Project, SARAI Gallery (SARADIPOUR) brought a selection of works by visual artist and winner of the Khor Art Initiative 2020 Mahdieh Abolhasan (b. 1980) to the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz. Held on May 11, Curated by Sadegh Khalife, "The Placeless Place" was a single-day, alternative-space exhibition where Abolhasan's new installations were displayed at the historic Zargan power plant, where her creations interacted both with the power plant's industrial architecture and unique space and its community of workers.
KHOR Art Initiative 2022
SARAI Gallery held the 3rd Khor Art Initiative in the Summer of 2022. Khor Art Initiative is an annual nationwide art prize juried this time by celebrated regional and international art figures Rose Issa, Roxane Zand, and Linda Komaroff. This year's event concluded with the dominance of female artists in top categories, announcing Atefeh Majidi Nezhad as the winner of Khor 2022.
LET THERE BE NOUR | M. Khezri & A. Nasle Shamloo Dual Show in London
Held at Cromwell Place, London, from June 28th until July 3rd, 2022, "Let There be Noor: The Poetry of Half-Lit Visions" marked the first international Karavan Project; a dual exhibition of paintings and drawings by Iranian artists Moslem Khezri (b. 1984) and Abbas Nasle Shamloo (b. 1983), featuring a selection of figurative works by Khezri's and faux-representational landscapes by Nasle Shamloo. Both artists belong to the same generation of Iranian painters and their art shares several traits. Most notably, the muted natural light and the way its presence is reflected in each artist's form and concept, play a dominant role in defining the space quality and overall mood of the paintings. That is a rare kind of sensitivity in contemporary painting today.
A3 = 1 | Sam Nikmaram's Drawings and Sculptures
Sam Nikmaram (1991)'s first solo exhibition at SARAI Gallery, "a3 = 1" opened on August 19th and continued to run until September 2nd, 2022. The exhibition consisted of Nikmaram's ceramic and papier-mâché sculptures and works on paper. Nikmaram's concern for nature and the forces shaping our living environment is reflected both in his choice of material - his sculptures are often made out of papier-mâché and disposable objects - and his often isometric drawings and paintings composed of neatly delineated, minimalistic examination of environmental elements including green and grey, clear and pollutant, each time creating a new and different whole.
Running from August 30 - until September 30, Khor 2022 Online Exhibition was virtually exhibited on the SARAI Gallery website, showcasing works by this year's 30 shortlisted artists.
In Between | Moslem Khezri's Immigrants
Moslem Khezri's latest series of paintings and drawings called "In Between" was shown at SARAI Gallery December 2 - 16, 2022. Centered on the critical theme and globally growing phenomenon of human immigration, "In Between" depicts various scenes from the cold, giant interiors of Iran's major international airport. Rendered with Khezri's signature sensitivity and virtuosity, each work offers a frozen fragment of memory that builds the intermediary experience between 'being there' and 'being gone'.
KHOR 2022 Artists Group Exhibition
SARAI Gallery concluded 2022 with a physical group exhibition by Khor finalists, curated based on the gallery's visions and converging aesthetic and thematic aspects among the shortlisted artists from across the country. Opened on December 23, The ongoing presentation consists of selected works by Ayda Roozbayani, Faraz Nassersharif, Leyla Shojaee, Milad Salari, Paria Farrokhi, Sadaf SeyedRezaei, Sadegh Khalife, Sanaz Pasandideh Talemi, Sina Soleimani, Nastaran Isazadeh, Mehdi Vakili, Maryam Yahaghi, Leila Farrokhi, Atefeh Majidi Nezhad, Mojtaba Haghjoo, Fariba Gorjian, Behrooz Majidi, Parisima Bahrami, and Neda Moradi. KHOR 2022's Artists Exhibition ends on January 6, 2023.
SARAI Gallery's 2023 outlook involves a host of exciting programs including presenting our young Pakistani artist Zaam Arif for the first time in London with an upcoming solo, representation of regional artist masters, and broadening our international presence through new locations and art fairs.   
December 31, 2022
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