Anārestān: An Exhibition of Contemporary Iranian Illustration.

Ali BoozariAli Boozari, Iranian illustrator and head of the Iranian illustrator’s society collected the artwork in Iran. In the following article he describes the story behind this unique exhibition and gives us a review of the opening and the accompanying workshops with German schoolclasses.

Located in the historical campus of Blutenburg castle in Germany, the International Youth Library of Munich is the largest library for international literature for children and young in the world.In addition to the unique book collection, the halls of Blutenburg castle host various events. These exhibitions include illustration exhibitions and the display of literary works (past and present) from different countries. Designed for both children and adults, such exhibitions also include the display of literary works and recommended catalogues. Some of these exhibitions travel to the public libraries of schools and various institutes to be displayed again .

This time, the library has opened the dAnaarestan-Plakate3.inddoors of its galleries to Iranian illustration. “Anārestān” is the first part of a bilateral exhibition called “Anārestān – Erdbeerland” held in the International Youth Library, with the support of and the Artistic Association of Illustration and Design in Berlin, the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Iranian Embassy’s Cultural Office. The current exhibition contains 70 works by 16 Iranian illustrators from 13 publishers (Iranian and non-Iranian), selected by Thomas Richter Eigenhufe, German illustrator and curator, Andreas Tӧpfer, graphic designer, Gabor Steisinger, animator, Anja Tchepets, printmaking specialist, and Ali Boozari, illustrator and art researcher.

In May 2013, Eigenhufe traveled to Iran to personally meet the Iranian publishers and illustrators and select works for the exhibition. He was also the guest of Children’s Book Council and gave a speech about former exhibitions and German illustration. But the idea for such an exhibition goes back to several years ago, when Eigenhufe visited a small exhibition of Iranian books in Germany. At that time he was willing to publish some of these books, but financial problems caused him to decide to familiarize the audience with the beauty of these works through holding an exhibition. He curated two other small exhibitions of Iranian contemporary illustration in Berlin (2011) and Hamburg (2012). But this time, based on his previous experience, he decided to collaborate with not just one publisher, but the illustrators themselves, in holding the exhibition again. It took him a few years to reach an agreement with the International Youth Library of Munich about exhibition “Anārestān”. For two reasons, “Anārestān” is more significant than the two previous exhibitions: first, it exhibits more works by Iranian illustrators and active children’s books publishers, and second, this exhibition takes place not in a gallery, but in a world-famous institution specialized in the field of children’s literature. Additionally the catalogue that has been prepared contains comprehensive information about Iranian illustration and this specific exhibition. The catalogue starts with an introduction by Ali Boozari, titled “Illustration Tendencies in Iran” and ends with an epilogue by Einghufe, titled “Anārestān News”, followed by a passage called “Final Words”, by Dr. Christane Raabe, head of the International Youth Library of Munich. Einghufe’s passage, addresses the formation process of the exhibition, while also discussing the status and importance of Iranian illustration in the world.

The illustrators, whose works are on display in this exhibition are listed as follows: Negin Ehtesabian, Bride and Groom in the Rain (Khorus Publishing, Nazar); Atieh Bozorg Sohrabi, No Reason, (Bagh-e-Abi); Ali Boozari, La Lecon De La Fontaine, (Lirabelle); Hoda Hadādi, Sara, Apple Marmalade, and the River (Elmi Farhangi); Rashin Kheyieh, The Sea Waves Washed a Bottle Ashore (Cheshmeh); Morteza Zahedi, 1000 Zanimaux (R.M.N. Grand Palais); Amir Sha’bani Poor, The Parrot and the Grocer (IIDCYA); Farshid Shafi’ei, Das-Dasi, Babash Miad (Khorus, Nazar); Noushin Safakhu, A Man to be Friends with (Khaneh Adabiāt); Mithra Abdollahi, First King of the World (Khaneh Adabiāt); Alireza Golduzian, Nim Man Bough, (Nārestan); Nargess Mohamadi, I’m not Afraid, (Behnashr); Reza Maktabi, Magic of Painting, (Monadi Tarbiat); Atefeh Malekiju, Ahmad Agha, (Bāgh-e-Abi); Hasan Mousavi, Uncle’s Mustache, (Peydayesh); Fereshteh Najafi, King Bahrām, (Grandir).

The exhibition is on the seIMG_8958 - 2013-09-26 at 20-51-12cond floor of the Southern wing of the library, in the corridor located between the administrative building and the study hall. The exhibition is designed in a way that after passing through the corridor where the works are on display, in one of the castle towers, a pomegranate tree can be spotted. 16 small pomegranates, each made by each one of the participating illustrators, are hanging from this tree.IMG_8961 - 2013-09-26 at 20-53-42

The opening ceremony of “Anārestān” started with Dr. Raabe’s speech. She talked about the glory and success of Iranian illustration in international events, such as Bologna Book Fair. She gladly stated that hopefully this exhibition will familiarize German audiences with Iranian illustration. Afterwards, Ali Boozari went on to give a speech about the tendencies of contemporary illustration in Iran. After presenting a short history, he spoke about the art tendencies of each of the participants. Then the invitees were given small dried pomegranates to hang on the exhibition tree and contribute to the decorating process.

IMG_8936 - 2013-09-26 at 19-32-35

Snacks included broken pomegranates with Golpar, various types of Yazdi confectionary, Pomegranate Lavashak , and Pomegranate juice. These Iranian pomegranate-based snacks were not only nostalgic for the Iranian visitors, but also quite fascinating for the German guests and visitors; after a few minutes, all the sweets had disappeared.

Two other events were also held along with this exhibition: first, launching ceremony of Rashin Kheyrieh and Ali Boozari’s book at Mundo Azul bookstore in Berlin. Mundo Azul is one of the few bookstores in Germany that specializes in displaying and selling books with artistic structure and national/international critical acclaim. On September 25, this bookstore hosted Iranian illustrators, and introduced their works.DSC_0068

The second event was an illustration workshop for children, organized by Ali Boozari, at the International Youth Library of Munich, and Rashin Kheyrieh, at the Munich International School. In Boozari’s workshop, a shortened version of “Dokhtarān-e-Anār” (tr. Pomegranate’s Daughters) by Samad Behrangi was narrated and each of the children tried to draw a picture of her. These drawings were hung on the pomegranate tree of the exhibition during the visit. Kheyrieh told the story of The Pink Witch, illustrated by herself, and the children went on to draw pictures after seeing the book’s illustrations.

It should be noted that the second part of this exhibition, with the participation of 16 German illustrators, will be held in May 2014, in Tehran, with the cooperation of the Children’s Book Council of Iran.

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