Parviz Tanavoli has played a key role in the art and culture of Iran as well as the Middle East over the past six decades. This role is not limited to his creations as an artist, but to the range and variety of his activities in different areas of the arts, particularly the cultural inheritance of Iranians. He is a sculptor, painter, print-maker, author, researcher and art historian, as well as a collector and patron of Iranian modern and contemporary art.
His research and collections focus on local, tribal, and folk arts of Iran. He has written more than twenty books on subjects such as, talismans, locks, scales and weights, kohl containers, tombstones, as well as many books on hand-woven fabrics, tribal and village kilims and rugs, focusing on the historic-cultural importance of these items for the first time. The range of these collections clearly shows the depth of Tanavoli’s knowledge, and his interest in the creations and beliefs of common people. He lives surrounded by folk art and the effect of this is clearly visible in his art.
With an exhibition in 1965 in Tehran, Parviz Tanavoli defined Iranian Pop Art for the first time. He showed that Iranian Pop Art is popular, narrative, poetic, critical, bold, exciting, and confusing, but it is rooted in idioms, tales, beliefs, and folk creations. It is limitlessly Iranian without resorting to usual techniques for announcing its Iranian identity.
The exhibition “Universal Icons” alongside the exhibition “Exercise Writing” celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Pop Art in Iran as well as Iranian Pop Art in the world. It also happens to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Parviz Tanavoli’s “Heech”.