77Photographs, 77Artists _ Homage to Abbas Kiarostami

7 _ 21 July 2017


Behind the peaceful, distant and non-interfering appearance of Abbas Kiarostami hid a sensitive, compassionate, anxious and affectionate artist whose work show his deep sincere concerns for the ordinary folk, the ordinary places and the ordinary things. With a kind wondering gaze, he can deeply and profoundly watch the long moments of a bird feeding its chicks or observe – even for hours if necessary – the movement of wood stuck in some corner of the sea... And of course people have their special place for him. He is concerned about their fate: from that of a little boy in “A Wedding Suit” to the dedicated and loyal child of “Where is the Friend’s Home?”, from people stuck in daily routine to the crooked man in “Close-up” and the victims of earthquake in his famous trilogy.
This sort of perspective and immeasurable calm and compassion free from slogans are to be found in the creations of several filmmakers of his generation, Sohrab Shahid-Saless and Amir Naderi. Their view represents the concerns of a generation of skillful artists who grew together and in unison. Among them, Kiarostami found his pure minimalistic simplicity and in order to achieve “the reality” that he believed to be subsequent to “the truth”, he became interested in wiping off embellishments and minimized everything: his set design was limited to the interiors of a Nissan Patrol or to remake the thick nature around it, he limited himself to fifty poplar trees. He turned his camera towards snow, trees, old doors and rain-washed windows, and once just like a Buddhist mystic said trees seem to talk to him. Poetry for him was the same, and in his selection of classical poetry he believed that verbal ornaments were only the surface while essence of composition was the objective. In the last videos and in his large digital works created with the impressionist paintings with minute additions he achieved a brilliant concept.
But, in the last years of his life, did he take back any of his compassion from the people? I don’t believe so. Perhaps he reached a holistic mystical understanding of the world and that in a wonderful and amusing parody he exchanged his tireless effort to minimise everything with a perplexed look at the whole world – just like that of Terrence Malick!

Aydin Aghdashloo | June 2017

A year has passed since that bad year; a year of death and decease. And then, the passing of Abbas Kiarostami, seems to have begun a new presence for him. More than ever he is now vividly present in all film festivals and cinematic occasions. A seat is reserved for him in the front row and he is celebrated in films, photographs and exhibitions.

“Of this grief, bewail we not – how? And clamour we not – why?”

A lapse in judgment, misdirection and forgetfulness of humans who forget the value of life’s pieces and shred life to pieces… In that bad year, a piece of life was lost to the world of art. “Friends! Lend a hand for the plot has been lost.”
He who in his stories of death spoke about life, of trees, roots and soil, of children, moon and life and then of nothing, so be it.

We were planning to celebrate Kiarostami’s 77th birthday. I told him that two 7s, next to the other, have an attractive graphic shape, and after that comes 88. He said “Just like a sergeant’s insignia!” And we laughed. The Persian New Year arrived. Spring visited him in the hospital. He left us at the beginning of summer.

Ebrahim Haghighi | June 2017


The seventy-year-old man who saw the world through the eyes of a seven-year-old “Everybody can look, but they don't necessarily see” This quote from André Kertész, the well-known Hungarian born photographer, points out the fundamental difference between “looking” and “seeing”. The difference that has always been, and forever will be, the dilemma for all image-makers. And it is exactly from this sensitive and critical point that the original and peerless presence of Abbas Kiarostami emerges in life and eventually in the world. It seems like Kiarostami, even in his seventies, saw the world through the eyes of a seven-year-old; fresh, wondrous and free from dull repetition. This may be the chief individual characteristic in his approach to every moment of life and its veiled or unveiled secrets, but remaining true to “himself” and “being original” in ethics and social behavior as well as his special artistic attitude have made him a unique and distinguished global figure. Based upon three decades of close friendship with Abbas Kiarostami, I witnessed his indomitable endeavor in photography, film making, poetry and the latest art forms, be it video art, installation or the enormously transformed digital facilities. Yet, in many occasions I heard him say that “the best moment of life is when I hear the four doors of my car shut, and I take refuge in nature, away from the city and urban life”. In Kiarostami’s view “nature” renders its most magnificent graphic scope in the white of winter, where his inherent sense of minimalism intertwines with the plain white and, the sublime black and grey of his photographs. The “snow-white” collection is a distinct testament of his graphic creativity and his serenity and peace of mind before nature and the very essence of life.

Seyfollah Samadian | 2017

“The Dandelion which came through the window Flew out the door”

Abbas Kiarostami turned 77. He was the man who in this vast pleasing grey, this "Once a While", repeatedly invited us to witness the leaves, the snow, the trees and the pause in the dance of the wood and the wave, to watch the mischief of the crows, and to ponder all that is between the black and the white. Alas, he is no longer with us. Again, "this fertile death did not wait".

In this exhibition, “A Piece of Life”, 77 artists have gathered in his honor to offer him each from their own point of view, 77 framed pieces of life. Offers to a man who “when he came, he came; when he was, he was; and when he left, he was”.

Parham Didehvar | Summer 2017