Parviz Tanavoli

We are Happy Locked within Holes, 1970

Image for We are Happy Locked within Holes, 1970

After studying art in Italy, Tanavoli returned to Tehran in 1960. He soon became Zenderoudi’s accomplice in the Saqqakhaneh venture, developing a distinct form of bronze sculpture that combines modernist impulses with Iranian forms. Building his works incrementally, he employs an artistic vocabulary forged from contemporary tools and artisanal objects: welded faucets, tubes, and grillwork, and the keys and locks he collected in local bazaars. As Fereshteh Daftari writes, “We Are Happy Locked Within Holes evoke[s] a cage or prison tower and invites the viewer … to form a hybrid language that converts a prison into a temple of love.”1 Here Tanavoli encourages the observer to look beyond the surface into confined spaces where sexuality and love clandestinely survive—in the form of a phallus in one cell and interlaced hands in another.

1. Fereshteh Daftari, “Another Modernism: An Iranian Perspective,” in Picturing Iran: Art, Society and Revolution, ed. Lynn Gumpert and Shiva Balaghi (London: I.B. Tauris, 2002), 77.

Medium Bronze on travertine stone base
Dimensions 30 x 7 1/4 x 10 3/4 in.
Credit Line Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection
Donor Gift of Abby Weed Grey
Object ID G1975.56

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Collection Years: 1970