Iran is a vast art gallery, says Gary Lewis, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in Iran.
Iranian art today is an extension of the rich ancient art and culture having its origins in the Elamite (pre-Iranian civilization centered in the far west and southwest of what is now modern-day Iran), Achaemenid (550–330 BC, also called the First Persian Empire) and Parthian (247 BC-224 AD) eras, and flourishing in the present-day modern and contemporary art fields, Honaronline quoted Lewis as saying during his visit to some art galleries in Tehran earlier this week.
“It’s stunning to see how Iranian art shows up in poetic styles in all eras,” he noted.
Iranians introduce themselves to visitors through art, Lewis said, pointing to an earlier program of the Tehran Municipality that saw the capital city converted into a huge art gallery with billboards showing artistic works instead of the usual and tiring advertisements. Such activities indicate that art is given its due place in urban spaces.
In response to a question, he reiterated that Iran is a huge art gallery with several thousand years of a rich civilization. Iranian cultural places are commendable. ‘What is exhibited in Tehran galleries is stunning, but the real artistic worth lies in the country’s ancient buildings and textures. They are indeed invaluable and need to be preserved properly,” he said.
Lewis said he had visited Alamut in Qazvin Province, Bishapur city on the ancient historical route between Persis and Elam, Persepolis in Shiraz, tomb of the biblical prophet Daniel and water canals in Shush and Shushtar cities in Khuzestan Province. He was also “quite familiar” with heroes of the Shahnameh, or the book of kings, a long epic poem written by the celebrated Persian poet Ferdowsi (977-1010), the tombs of Cyrus the Great (600-530 BC) founder of the Achaemenid Empire and Darius the Great (550-486 BC) the third king of the Achaemenid Empire and other aspects of Persian history.
He said he was happy to see that heritage sites were receiving due attention and hoped that maximum efforts would be made to preserve them as valuable heritage in the Middle East region. Unfortunately, planned destruction is increasingly eroding the rich historical and artistic works in some parts of the region.