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Carbon 12

Private Gallery
Interview with artist Alireza Masoumi at Carbon 12 Gallery
  Tell us when and how did you first get interested in the arts? Did you always want to become an aritst?

When I was 18 and in military service in Iran, I did not like the atmosphere so I chose drawing as a companion and over time, I became more and more involved. Art is something that has grown on me as I have discovered my passion and explored my creative abilities.

How do you see your native Iran from an artist's perspective?

I was born in the UK, but I grew up in Iran. I just moved back to London last year. From an artist's point of view Iran has lots to offer. Travelling from north to south and from east to west you find many, many cultures and different languages, which makes it a rich and fascinating place from which to draw inspiration. The nomadic lifestyle of some native Iranians is very inspiring for me. The ability to live life constantly on the move without any attachments is very appealing to me; it is an attitude which I really admire.

Obviously there is a huge contrast between Iran and London- the weather, architecture, culture etc. It wasn't until I moved here that I really appreciated what a cosmopolitan city London is. It is a great city for art and artists. I have met a lot of people who have emigrated to London for business or art.

In the Middle East, Iran is known to be at the forefront of contemporary art. What do you have to say about this?

I am proud of Iran's reputation. I believe it is well deserved as the contemporary art scene in my country is thriving and extremely dynamic. In the last 30 years, we have been through a revolution and then eight years of war so our art and artists have been neglected. I can remember just fifteen years ago we had only two art galleries but now we have more than 100. It doesn't reflect the quality but it is good for business and the economy.

How would you describe Dubai?

I first travelled to Dubai when I was eight. If I compare that time to now, I can say only incredible. Also there is now even more magic in Dubai. The decision to join Carbon 12, the very first international art gallery, actually in the region, made Dubai even more meaningful. This is what we need the most in the middle-east: a platform where we can stand next to artists with a high international profile. This is the future.

Who are your favourite artists?

I like most of the artists; everyone has something special to contribute. But I began my professional work after being inspired by New York schools of art such as Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, more recent artist MARKUS OEHLEN (also with Carbon 12). I also studied traditional Iranian miniature paintings. Over the course of time, I've mixed all these influences together in my work.

A quote that you use often?

"My love". But I use it only for getting attention of the ones I love.

What is the best comment/compliment you have received on your artwork?

An art expert once told me, that my works represent my personal character. Also seeing a spontaneous reaction sometimes is the biggest compliment. This is what brought me here to Dubai. Kourosh Nouri of CARBON 12, who has been following my career for over ten years, loves what I do. He understands my "cartoonesque" world, and gives me the artistic freedom that any artist dreams of from his representative gallery.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on what I saw in nature in the last couple of years mixing it with my imagination. I am inspired by nature but I never paint it as a real shape or colour. I look to nature for a clue but when I am in my studio it loses its original shape. Cameras can take pictures of reality, so why should I waste my time as a painter copying things exactly? My aim is to give them a new identity.

I am also delighted to exhibit with Carbon 12, where artists such as Markus Oehlen, Katherine Bernhardt, Tor-Magnus Lundeby, and Gil Heitor Cortesao. This fact totally motivates me, and pushes me to get better with my own art.

Alireza Masoumi's exhibition titled Postcard from Utopia will run at Carbon 12 Gallery, Dubai View Towers, Dubai Marina, from January 20, 2008. Check for more details.
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