Alongside the Venice Biennale, the GAA Foundation will present their exhibition ‘Personal Structures: open borders.’ The exhibition will be open to the public, free of charge, from May 11th through November 24th and will boast European and non-European artists. The exhibition will call the Palazzo Bembo, Palazzo Mora, and the Giardini Marinaress home for the duration of the Biennale.
Among the artists who will show their works during ‘Personal Structures’ is Iranian sculptor Masoud Akhavanjam. Known for his elegant works in stainless steel, Akhavanjam will exhibit two large scale sculptures at the Giardini Marinaress. Dilemma of Man and Metamorphosis, made out of Akhavanjam’s go-to material, glean in the light resembling mercury if it could be moulded. Each work is highly symbolic for Akhavanjam and serves a greater purpose: to ask those who witness them to do good.
Both Dilemma of Man and Metamorphosis combine multiple figures to create two unique and coherent sculptures that call on Persian mythology, contemporary socio-political themes, and philosophy. Dilemma of Man, which is about four metres tall, plays off the trope of the battle of good and evil within the confines of today’s world. A feathered wing melds into a bat-like wing evoking good and evil, respectively, recalling the metaphor of having an angle on one shoulder and a devil on the other. For Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man comments on the powers at be today whose choices can do extreme good or evil. Metamorphosis, though smaller in size, is no less powerful. Bringing together attributes of a bull, elephant, and deer, Akhavanjam drew inspiration from Persian mythical figures of the Achaemenid Empire of Iran. By combining animals who are all variants of strength and power, Akhavanjam expresses sentiments of harmonious coexistence.
In a press release concerning his works, Akhavanjam said:
‘Humanity has come a long way in terms of tolerating and accepting one another in order to coexist, but it seems like we still have far to go. This is where art can play a part, by demonstrating examples of this tolerance, and how far it can take us. These public sculptures are my plea to the earth to find the good in everyone, and use it to make the world a better place.’
Akhavanjam, born in Tehran and educated in both Germany and the US, began sculpting ceramics as a teenager. After working within his family’s household appliance manufacturing company managing the Design Department, Akhavanjam established his own workshop that brought together the knowledge he garnered in the manufacturing industry and his passion for sculpting. In 2011, he created his first bronze sculpture. Akhavanjam went on to utilize stainless steel, a material more commonly associated with appliances and household fixtures, transforming it from rough and sturdy into ‘delicate, beautiful and gleaming form[s].’
‘Masoud is a significant figure in the contemporary Iranian market and his participation in projects both inside and outside of Iran are testament to both growing international interest in his work and his renown in the artworld,’ says Janet Rady, a Contemporary Art of the Middle East specialist. Rady, who has worked with Akhavanjam since 2016 continued: ‘This is a rare chance to see two new monumental works from the artist on public display in Venice during the Biennale.’
The exhibition is hosted and supported by the European Cultural Centre. ‘Personal Structures’ is part of a larger series called ‘Time – Space – Existence,’ which aims to highlight works with ‘unusual and very personal points of view.’