Khosrow Hassanzadeh Is a contemporary artist from Tehran, Iran (1963 – current)
He studied painting at Mojtama-e-Honar University (1989-91) in Tehran.
He also studied Persian Literature at Azad University (1995-99), also in Tehran
One of his major influences is American Pop Artist Andy Warhol
Into the International Art Scene:
Khosrow made his first international début, in 1998, at Diorama Arts Centre in London, with an exhibition called “War”. The “War” series was about his reflections as a volunteers soldier for his country during the Iran-Iraqi war, which lasted from 1980 to 1988.
WAR: 1998, London
Through this series, Khosrow, depicted his experiences as a frontline soldier during that war. The images themselves convey, to the viewer, the artist’s sense of grief and honesty about war, death and the un-naturalness of being in a war and seeing people die and their bodies being piled up and buried in large numbers.
These depictions, of course, were contrary to the sentimental versions that the government fed to the public. The official reports of the war are said to have been colorful stories that used words such as “martyrdom” and “pride”, describing those who died as “heroes”. The words served as an attempt to draw attention away from the grim reality that close to a million people died during that 8-year period.
This series is also one example that shows that Khosrow as an Artist who is not afraid to bring into discussion socially sensitive issues, and call into question political propaganda surrounding what he feels are the real conditions in his country. Because of this honest or confrontational approach to sensitive topics, Khosrow became unpopular with Iranian authorities. As a result his work is mostly exhibited in countries outside of Iran, for example, he has had solo shows in European countries such as Amsterdam, London, and other Eastern countries such as, Beirut, Dubai, Phnom Penh.
TERRORIST Series: 2004
This series of five paintings was made as a response to a statement that was made by President Bush, in which he labeled Iran as part of an “Axis of evil”. One of the goals of this series is to challenge the stereotypical Western perceptions of the Islamic world. His choice of medium for this body of work is screen print on canvas and he also used with Photoshop edited imagery. The screen print on canvas reflects influences by American artist, Andy Warhol who was, himself influenced by American pop culture. In this case the medium is intentionally used to refer to the religious propaganda of the Iranian regime.
For this series, Khosrow used members of his own family members as models. With each print he included a short description of who those people are and what they are about. For example, on the above piece the model is his mother and he included a few notes that describe who she is and her role is.
The purpose is to put a face and a precise identity to the majority of ordinary people who are also Muslims living Iran, people who are too busy living their every day lives to be thirsting for the death of people that they’ve never met. The visual language used in this series can also be seen as declaration of his independence from the control of the Iranian regime.
This exhibition is a commentary on how Iranian Culture (identity) and values relating to honesty and self-preservation which have been dying away ever since the Revolution (1979).
The series has an identical content to another body of work, which he titled “Ya Ali Madad”, He expalins: “Ya Ali Madad, Ali is the first Imam in the Shia tradition. He was a strong and humble man, famous for helping poor. He is the Imam of the Pahlavan and they revere his sword, the Khyber. In Iran, when people need help they say ‘Ya Ali Madad’, the calligraphy in the paintings, the letters dance and whirl like Sufi dervishes. The screen print is from an old photo of Pahlavan holding hands on either side of them are a court intellectual, a Dervish, a General and Mullah. The Pahlavan represent many aspects of Iranian culture that we are loosing today. In the Ya Ali Madad series I want to remind people of their beauty, strength and honour.”
This Series Features mugshots of 16 prostitutes from the Holly City of Mashad. These are said to have published in a public news paper at a time when serial killer was fanatically killing prostitutes to “cleanse” the city.
This was another example of Khusrow’s work that could not be exhibited in his home country because of the the confrontational nature of its content.
One article explains: “Faheshe (Prostitutes) series from 2002, exhibited in Berlin’s House of World Cultures in 2004, features portraits of 16 prostitutes who were murdered by a religious fanatic in the holy city of Mashhad in 2001. Although the killer was subsequently hanged for his crimes, many conservative Shiites defended his behavior, and for a while a wave of indignation about the extent of prostitution in the city overshadowed the murders and the trial”.
His work is currently exhibiting at the 53rd Venice Biennale, along with a group of artists from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.