Iranian painters turn golden pages of new chapter

Wed May 25, 2011 10:09am EDT
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By Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN (Reuters Life!) - A new chapter has opened for Iranian artists enjoying a boom in sales and interest from major international auction houses such as Christie's despite a global economic malaise and sanctions hitting Iran.

Works by Iranian painters have been selling for fairly high prices, not only outside Iran's borders but also inside the Islamic state where many Iranians are facing economic hardship.

Many Iranians are fearful for the future, worrying about higher food and utilities prices. Many middle-class Iranians are squeezed by soaring rents and grocery bills on the one hand and stagnant salaries on the other.

Iran's economy has suffered under international sanctions imposed by the West because of its nuclear activities.

World powers suspect Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons under the cover of its declared civilian nuclear energy program, but Tehran says it needs nuclear power to meet growing domestic demand for electricity.

Talks with Iran on suspending the nuclear program in return for trade and technology have ground to a halt, with the last meeting in Istanbul in January failing to yield results.

Sanctions mainly target vital sectors of the economy such as banking and energy, which analysts say raises the cost of trade by making it more difficult to transfer funds or insure cargo.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government has also cut subsidies on fuel and food, which critics blame for increasing living costs and pressure on ordinary Iranians.   Continued...

<p>Painter Iran Darroudi poses for a portrait in front of one of her paintings at her home in Tehran April 12, 2011. REUTERS/Caren Firouz</p>