Iranian painters turn golden pages of new chapter

Wed May 25, 2011 12:39pm EDT
 
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By Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - 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.

Nevertheless, there remains an apparently insatiable appetite for Iranian works of art, irrespective of the different styles and mediums and prices. There are over a dozen major galleries for paintings in Tehran.

Working in a modern office, Alireza Sami Azar, an Iranian art analyst, says the change in attitudes toward art has largely contributed to the current market boom for paintings, which he expects to continue growing.

"The recent phenomenon that has contributed to the growing market was the fact that this art is now regarded as a means for investment, and so it's got a cultural and financial aspect rather than an artistic, philanthropic reason behind it."

"This peaking trend dates back to 2006 when major auction houses like Christie's came to the region," he said.   Continued...