He is most famous for his sculptures, in particular for his iconic Heech sculpture series. He is also known for his expansive body of works including paintings, prints, ceramics, rugs and jewelry. In addition, the artist is a highly-regarded collector and poet.
Grosvenor’s exhibit of Tanavoli’s prints opened on April 26 and will run until May 8.
In an interview with Grosvenor Gallery director Charles Moore, Tanavoli elaborated about his print series.
“From the late 60s to early 70s and while I was collecting lion rugs, I went through tribal areas of Fars Province, who were the creators of these rugs’” he said.
“It was during this period that I became acquainted with Qashqa’i and Lori weavers, and I noticed they weave their rugs by looking at another rug, and do not use cartoons like city weavers. That is how I decided to make my own rugs through the Qashqa’i and the Lori weavers of Fars,” he added.
For the first rug, I gave one of my paintings to a young girl and ask if she can make a rug like that. A month later, the rug was ready and I couldn’t believe my eyes, how good the weaver had transformed my painting into a pile rug. Later I gave the same painting to Lori weavers, although the subject was followed well, but in coloring and the weaving the rugs differed,” he noted.
“The prints were made in the heating room (the basement of our house). Once I was sure the screen prints were the best models to give to the weavers to make into rugs, I decided to set a print-making studio in the basement of our house and asked a few of my students to come and help me. I managed to set up a well-organized print shop, and spent most of my time there,” he explained.
He said that all the prints were made during the summer of 1974, when Tanavoli and his students did not have to go to school.
In a statement for the exhibition, Shiva Balaghi, a cultural historian specializing in the modern and contemporary art of the West Asia and its diasporas, wrote, “Although Parviz Tanavoli is known as the father of modern Iranian sculpture, over the course of his seven decades as an artist he has created a diverse range of artworks from ceramics to rugs, from painting to prints.
“Through the years, Tanavoli’s art has been deeply influenced by his work as a teacher, a researcher and a collector. And it is in his prints from the 1970s that one can clearly see the themes and motifs that would become central to his creative expression.”
Tanavoli is among the four artists and art professionals selected by Asia Society this year to be honored with Asia Arts Game Changer Awards.