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Mahmoud Javadipour a pure vision of Persian Art
Mahmoud Javadipour one of the major contemporary artists, and founder of Graphic Art in Iran has celebrated his 90th birthday with more than 60 years of artistic creation in various styles and themes
Mahmoud Javadipour was destined to become one of Iran’s greatest painters and graphic artists and his name has been linked to innovations in the Iranian art. Art and artistic talent were embedded in his family. His father’s hobby was to create scenes with basic materials around him and to keep his children amused by painting for them. His mother played music and had a passion for dressmaking.
A twist of fate changed young Javadipour’s career from the path of pursuing music to painting. He entered school to study welding and artistic printing. Then went to the University of Fine Arts in Tehran to continue his studies and has been creating outstanding works of art for over 6 decades. Javadipour was the first artist to use Iranian calligraphy as subject of a painting. His early involvement in creating logos for various organizations in the country made him see the need for graphic design studies and his suggestion was the start of graphic design studies in the country. He was also the first to introduce printing through separation of colors with the help of a camera and the first to start artistic print. Javadipour’s other outstanding endeavor was to be among the founding members of Iran’s first ever art gallery Apadana which opened its doors to the public in 1948 and gave space to young artists to present their thoughts and talents to all.
The Museum of Modern Art in Tehran is preparing to stage an exhibition of Mahmoud Javadipour’s works in fall 2010. We met him for an interview ahead of time in his atelier where his feelings and spirit is present in everything including the music which fills the air.
TG: Mr. Javadipour what made you become a painter?
MJ: My father made designs at home. For example he would draw on paper or make an egg into some shape and these made me become interested in drawing. Also I was really interested in music and I listened to records on old gramophones and it was because of this that I wanted to study music. But in those days in Iran there weren’t any music conservatories or places to study music seriously. My fathered offered to buy me a musical instrument so I could practice but I refused saying I did not want to become just a musician and I wanted to learn about music academically. Because of this I did not follow my studies in the field of music and instead planned to enter Sanati School where I could still learn about art and creativity. But I got sick and when I went to register the places were all filled and I had to wait a year before enrolling. At the time I had a friend who was working in Peydayesh Akhavan textile factory. He asked me whether I was interested in working there. I agreed since I had a year of waiting before the start of the new school year. There I was put in charge of two textile machines and managed to have a considerable output and was thus commended by my superiors. In the following fall I enrolled in Sanati School and I began my studies in the field of welding and machine making.
TG: In the past families did not approve of their children who studied art. Was this the case in your family?
MJ: No, it was not the case in my family since my mother loved dressmaking and for a time she played a musical instrument and my father liked sketching and was greatly interested in all forms of art. My father had the pastime of making works of art with shellfish, sand, dead leaves and other basic material around him. I have kept some of his works and these all added up to me pursuing a career in art.
TG: Were there at that time any painters or other artists who added to your motivation?
MJ: In those days Kamalolmolk was the most prominent artist and also Mr. Heydarian but I always hated being influenced by others or copying other people’s work. I wanted my work to be my own creation and represent my own effort.
TG: Do you follow a special style of painting?
MJ: I don’t believe in having a particular style because I think it is meaningless. At different times in my life I have gone after learning about different materials or techniques. I tried to master them and used them whenever I wanted. For a while I worked on sketching and paid attention to shading and for some other time I worked on colors.
TG: You have a number paintings with clay pots as the prevailing theme. Did you want to give a special message?
MJ: Well, these clay pots were what we grew up with. In the past there was no ice to cool water. So these clay pots were filled with water and were left in shades in yards for the water to cool and we drank cold water from them. So these clay pots and bowls have a special meaning for me. It was as though I felt myself part of the soil they were made of and related to them. And it was because of this that I was interested in this theme and have used it in several of my paintings. But the paintings are different and have different compositions.
TG: Among your works I saw a painting of sunflowers. How much has western art influenced Iranian art?
MJ: When we were studying painting the techniques we learned were western techniques. Many artists have used these techniques and the style has come from the Kamalolmolk era. But at university we started with a style of painting called the impressionism. Our instructor was a lady who had studied at Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. She would give us a subject in the morning around 8 o’clock and then we had to use our own imagination and creativity to compose a painting. We had until noon and the works were marked then. These marks were an indication of our progress at university and a self-assessment for us to reflect on our own work. This type of study expanded our creativity. We also had Mr. Heydarian, a renowned artist at the time who taught us the classical style of painting and that of Kamalolmolk.
TG: You are also well known as a graphic artist in Iran. How did you get into this field?
MJ: During my second year at university I wanted to earn money to get some financial independence. So I began working in the printing-house of Bank Melli Iran in the afternoons as a painter. Well because of the nature of the place there was a lot of work which needed art work on them like books or boxes which belonged to various products and designing logos for them became my job. This was closely associated with graphic designing and I began working a lot on this and gained confidence. When I realized the need for this field I brought up the subject at university and suggested the introduction of graphic designing as a field of studies at the university.
TG: It has taken many years for our graphic artists to gain international acclamation. Why do you think it has taken so many years for their recognition?
MJ: It took some years for graphics to become a major field of studies. And many of those who had studied in this field had time to travel out and return to the country and reach high levels in this field. There were many artists and among them were Morteza Momayez and Ghobad Shiva. These artists helped Iranian graphic designs to obtain a symbol and to get recognition.
TG: What is your opinion now of graphic art in Iran?
MJ: The works of older graphic designers were more Iranian. It had creativity but some of those who are working now copy or alter designs they see in foreign books and magazines and then introduce them as their own work. I trust the older generations of our graphic artists but can’t do the same for the younger ones.
TG: You said music interests you very much and you always listened to western classical music while you painted. How does Iranian art blend in with western music?
MJ: Music is an essential part of my work. What I always chose in the kind of music which accompanied my painting was a variety of Classical music such as Bach, Mozart or Haendel which brought a more spiritual sensation and helped me in my inspirations. This sophisticated music is not a contradiction with Persian Art. The melodies that help express the variety of themes can add a deeper sense of understanding of the environments I show.
TG: What would you like to see in the works produced by young Iranian artists?
MJ: I like to see that an Iranian has done this work. And I want it to have Iranian elements.
TG: And how much do you think you have influenced Iranian art?
MJ: I think a lot. After all I have been teaching art for over 30 years both at the university and in private classes in my atelier.
Thank You for your time