Thousands throng to Iran museum with Western art masterpieces

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Visitors take a look at artwork by American artist Sol LeWitt being exhibited at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran on August 22, 2022. (AFP)
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A visitor looks at an installation by American artist Dan Flavin being exhibited at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran on August 22, 2022. (AFP)
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Visitors take a look at Sinjerli Variations I-V, by American painter Frank Stella in 1977 being exhibited at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran on August 22, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 25 August 2022

Thousands throng to Iran museum with Western art masterpieces

  • Exhibition features 132 works by 34 world-famous contemporary artists
  • The museum was inaugurated in 1977 during the reign of deposed ruler Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

TEHRAN: More than 20,000 people have flocked to an Iranian museum showcasing renowned Western artists’ works, some for the first time — part of a treasure trove amassed before the Islamic Revolution.
The museum’s collection is reputed to be the greatest line-up of modern masterpieces outside Europe and the United States, and includes multi-million-dollar pieces, much of which has been kept under wraps since the 1979 revolution.
The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art “surprises me every time,” said visitor Shahin Rajabi, 35. “The current show is no exception.”
The current “Minimalism and Conceptual Art” exhibition features 132 works by 34 world-famous contemporary artists, museum director Ebadreza Eslami said, including Marcel Duchamp, Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd and the duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
“The reception has been marvellous,” Eslami said, particularly after long closures in recent years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said one of the main factors for the footfall of this exhibit was that “38 masterpieces” were being displayed “for the first time.”
AFP saw visitors at the museum this week, some stopping to study details while others were busy taking photos as they made their way intently through the museum.
“I loved the last room of the exhibit in particular, where the artist had worked with the fluorescent light,” said visitor Rajabi, referring to American artist Dan Flavin’s “Untitled” work.

Behrang Samadzadegan, curator of the "Minimalism and Conceptual Art" exhibition, speaks during an interview at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran on August 22, 2022. (AFP)

The museum was inaugurated in 1977 during the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was deposed by Islamic revolutionaries two years later.
Its design was inspired by Iran’s desert wind towers — an architectural element used to catch and circulate cool air in hot environments.
Most of the collection was built up by the shah’s wife, former queen Farah Pahlavi, who deployed a team of experts to tour Western auctions and snap up prestigious paintings and sculptures to boost the country’s cultural profile.
The museum also holds an important collection of Iranian modern and contemporary art.
But the international works went underground after the Islamic republic’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini railed against “Westoxification,” deploring Western moral and sexual depravity which he said had infected the Islamic world.
The themes of many of the Western works have been considered too risque to be publicly shown, and have spent much of the past decades languishing in storage.
The museum counts some 3,500 works, hundreds of which are “very valuable,” head of public relations Hassan Noferesti said.
They include masterpieces by Western artists from Paul Gauguin to Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Alberto Giacometti, according to Iran’s culture ministry.

The current show, which runs until mid-September, includes a collage by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto titled “Green Curtains,” and an untitled work made from hemp by Canadian-American sculptor Jacqueline Winsor.
Curator Behrang Samadzadegan said “some 20,000 people” have visited since the show opened in late June — about twice the normal turnout.
Describing the theme of the show, he added “when we are talking about minimalism, we are primarily talking about the environment not the work.”
Standing in front of the “Rock Salt & Mirror” by American artist Robert Smithson, 28-year-old painter Solmaz Daneshvar said she “greatly enjoyed” the display.
The exhibition, however, was at the center of controversy this month when an amateur video surfaced showing two silverfish insects underneath the frame of a rare image by the late German photographic duo of Bernd and Hilla Becher.
The video, whose authenticity could not be independently verified by AFP, went viral.
The museum later made a formal apology, assuring concerned art lovers that the work by the Bechers, who are known for their photos of industrial structures, was not damaged.
It also closed its doors for two days for fumigation.
In 2015, the museum held an exhibition of 42 works by Western artists including Pollock’s masterpiece “Mural on Indian Red Ground,” valued by Christie’s auction house experts in 2010 at $250 million.

Government asks censor board to review Pakistani movie Joyland’s suitability for screening

Updated 16 November 2022

Government asks censor board to review Pakistani movie Joyland’s suitability for screening

  • Information minister says complaints received from parents, middle-class people
  • Special committee formed by PM suggests ‘full board review’ of Joyland

KARACHI: A government committee formed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to consider complaints against the Pakistani film Joyland on Tuesday tasked the country’s censor board to review whether the movie is suitable for screening or not.

Last week, the information ministry declared Joyland “repugnant to the norms of decency and morality” and ruled that it was an “uncertified film” for release in cinemas. Joyland celebrates “transgender culture” in Pakistan, with the film’s plot revolving around a family torn between modernity and tradition in contemporary Lahore.

Transgender people are considered outcasts by many in Pakistan, despite some progress with a law that protects their rights and a landmark Supreme Court ruling designating them as a third gender.

It has won the Cannes “Queer Palm” prize for the best feminist-themed movie as well as the Jury Prize in the “Un Certain Regard” competition, a segment focusing on young, innovative cinema talent. Joyland is Pakistan’s entry for next year’s Academy Awards.

The committee, headed by federal minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, held a meeting to review complaints against the film on Tuesday.

“The committee was directed to consider the complaints against the said film being contrary to social norms,” the information ministry’s press release said.

“After thorough deliberations, it [the committee] concluded that the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) should conduct a FULL BOARD REVIEW immediately to take final decision of its suitability for screening.”

Speaking on a private news channel, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the film had been “intensely censored” at first before it was certified by the censor board. She said once the movie was released at international festivals, the censor board received a flurry of complaints against it by people who had watched it abroad. 

“A surge of applications and petitions were received [against Joyland],” Aurangzeb said. “When petitions are received, it is binding to review them,” she added. 

“To my surprise, I was told by the censor board that they were [applications] received from middle-class people and parents,” the minister said. 

She said the censor board is an autonomous body as per Pakistani law, adding that the government had not interfered with the process. Aurangzeb said the decision by the censor board will be taken by Wednesday evening. 

Joyland writer and director, Saim Sadiq, also spoke on the channel, lamenting that Pakistan “is being made fun of” around the world. He said people were unable to comprehend why a movie that received critical acclaim was not being approved by the country’s own government. 

“If they [people who watched the film abroad] had an issue with the film that it shouldn’t be released in Pakistan, why did they watch it abroad,” Sadiq asked.

The information ministry’s decision to rule that the film was “uncertified” triggered outrage on social media, with many questioning the decision by the government.

“It is a story of our people told by our people for our people. Hoping for it to be made accessible to these very people #ReleaseJoyland,” Pakistani actor Humayun Saeed wrote on Twitter earlier this week.

“I personally do not believe in banning films that highlight issues faced by marginalized segments of our society,” Salman Sufi, the head of the prime minister’s strategic reforms unit, wrote on Twitter.

“People should be trusted to watch & make their own mind.”

Prominent Pakistani journalist, Aamna Isani, shared the definition of a transgender according to the constitution. “If you have a problem with that, appeal for an amendment to the constitution. Until then, #ReleaseJoyland,” she wrote on Twitter.

What We Are Reading Today: Life Is Hard by Kieran Setiya

Updated 12 November 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Life Is Hard by Kieran Setiya

This was a beautifully written book that everyone should have on their shelf.

This book invites thought, compassion, reflection, and consideration, both for one’s own life and the lives of those around us.

In this profound and personal book, Kieran Setiya shows how philosophy can help us find our way.

Setiya skillfully gives readers the information and context they need as he goes so they do not have to have a background in philosophy to understand and enjoy this book.

The way he ties it all together is poetry and his humor adds levity to some deceptively deep and heavy topics. He shares his own experience with chronic pain and the consolation that comes from making sense of it.

Drawing on ancient and modern philosophy, as well as fiction, comedy, social science and personal essay, Life is Hard is a book for this moment — a work of solace and compassion.

“This book makes no attempt to sugar coat life,” said a review on

“Once we accept the fact that we and others will always have troubles life will become more bearable and enjoyable.”


Where We Are Going Today: Cyan Waterpark 

Updated 10 November 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Cyan Waterpark 

If you’re looking to enjoy a pleasant time with family or friends, Cyan Waterpark is sure to impress. The spacious waterpark has attractions for all ages, and you can easily spend long hours there getting great value for your admission. The family-friendly environment is accessible to all visitors, including those with special needs.

Not too far from midtown Jeddah and right at the start of Obhur, Cyan Waterpark is located on King Saud Road.

Plunge down on a single, double or multiple-person raft for a high-adrenaline adventure or take a relaxing ride and float along the lazy river.

There is an array of interactive water games for children including spouts, colorful slides and dumping buckets.

Cyan waterpark also offers two wave pools, one for children and the other for adults, which will make you feel like you are in the middle of the sea.

The park’s friendly staff enhances the experience with their excellent service and attention to detail.

With the highest safety standards and professionally trained lifeguards, the park is an outstanding leisure destination for the whole family.

in the near future, Cyan Waterpark is set to open other attractions such as event halls, a petting zoo, an educational farm and an activity center for kids.

Today, guests can get their Cyan Waterpark soft opening tickets by booking at www., or as walk-in customers. Admission for adults is sR299 ($80) and sR199 for children. 

As the waterpark has some dress code guidelines, ensure you bring suitable swimwear.


British director Guy Ritchie to be honored at Red Sea film festival

Updated 05 November 2022

British director Guy Ritchie to be honored at Red Sea film festival

RIYADH: British filmmaker Guy Ritchie will be honored for “his exceptional contribution to the film industry” at the Red Sea International Film festival, event organizers said.

Ritchie, known for hits such as “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Snatch” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” will receive the award at the second festival in Jeddah. 

“British film director, producer and screenwriter Guy Ritchie is considered one of the most successful directors working today,” said organizers. “A gifted storyteller, Ritchie has a unique signature style and is renowned for a body of work.”

Saudi Arabia’s premier film festival runs from Dec. 1-10 and will feature more than 130 films and shorts from more than 60 countries in 41 languages. 

Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival, said: “Guy Ritchie is a pioneering director and unique storyteller.” 

Over the past 20 years, he has created a huge variety of unforgettable characters featuring original and intricate plots on the big screen. We are delighted to honor his extraordinary talents at the festival and look forward to welcoming him to Jeddah this December.”


What We Are Buying Today: KaafMeem

Updated 04 November 2022

What We Are Buying Today: KaafMeem

Saudi local brands are no strangers to creativity and originality, and to keep yourself afloat in such a sea of talent is a notable feat. KaafMeem is one such brand that has made a name for itself.

It caters to Saudi women by giving them unique abayas that match their style. The designs are unique, and the product is woven with class. The brand boasts variety for all women, with shorter abayas that fit the daily hustle, to the more sophisticated look.

The designs are colored in a way that makes pairing with other clothes an easy task.

The tarha is also available in different colors and these are easy to mix and match to produce fun outfits. KaafMeem even stocks a double-sided tarha that can take the place of two in your wardrobe.

The brand also offers accessories and masks so you can be safe and chic at the same time.

KaafMeem has also produced clothing to be worn under the abaya. These sets are ideal for someone looking to put together a modest outfit, and who wants the abaya to flow on top.

Dresses that fit the abaya like a glove come in presentation boxes to provide the ideal present for a loved one, or even yourself.

Customer service is friendly and accommodating. Once the product is delivered, a member of staff will get in touch with the buyer to make sure they are happy.