16 June 2016 London never sleeps when it comes to art from the Middle East. There is always one show or another, offering an introduction to the public of this growing and exciting field. Those heading to Basel Art Fair can whet their appetite with an exhibition that just opened in Fitzrovia, where Edel Assanti arrived only a few years ago – since then promoting diversity and cultural overlap within the art world.
Ashkan Baghestani, head of Arab and Iranian sales at Sothebys Middle East department says of this most recent show: “I first discovered one of their artists in 2014 – Richard Mosse, an Irish war photographer whose fascinating show had been set up inside an old Soho underground parking lot. The current exhibition called Metatextile, brings together a highly interesting group of artists from completely opposing worlds, yet it’s nevertheless cohesive. A very well presented, clean, slick and airy exhibition, the show includes three artists from the Middle East region: Babak Golkar (early work from 2011) who will have a solo show at the gallery during Frieze, Slavs and Tartars who have recently gained international attention (through Mirrors for Princes, at the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston ), and finally the fascinating Nazgol Ansarinia from Green Art Gallery (from whom Sothebys sold a work in 2013 as part of the Crossroads selling exhibition).
“Last time I saw Nazgol’s works was in March 2016 in Dubai, where she addressed architectural nostalgia in post-Revolution Iran. The Metatextile show aims to highlight the consistent artistic output and structure surrounding the use of textiles as an avant-garde medium. The show retraces almost a century of textile tradition/production, with the role of labour and its influence being one of its most important aspects of the show. This theme is highlighted through artists such as Boetti who produced all his embroideries in Afghanistan throughout the 70 and 80s.”
The importance of local craft and artisanal is clearly emphasized in this show, a direction in art discourse which we are fascinated to observe. London Craft Week happened only recently to acclaim, and the Crafts Council is enjoying an increasing profile on the art scene. With Design leading the way in market performance, we see growing convergence between fashion, design, crafts, visual arts and other forms of expression which Metatextile takes one step further.
Metatextile is at Edel Assanti, London, 10 June–12 August