Fondation Behnam Bakhtiar Interview with Shirley Elghanian



Shirley Elghanian, Founder of Magic of Persia 


Fondation Behnam Bakhtiar talks to Shirley Elghanian, Founder of Magic of Persia, on their second group exhibition in Los Angeles Contemporary Iranian Art in partnership with Sotheby's. The exhibition will be consiting of twenty plus curated established and emerging Iranian artists, as well as an exclusive premiere of a documentary film about Fereydoun Ave. 

Magic of Persia promotes Iranian art and culture to a wider audience outside of Iran, and strives to make a notable contribution to its long-term advancement worldwide. This is accomplished by establishing programmes in modern and contemporary Iranian art, music, media and academia in partnership with world-class institutions.

FBB. Contemporary Iranian Art is Magic of Persia’s second group exhibition and auction with Sotheby’s. Tell us more about this exciting upcoming event.


Magic of Persia is thrilled to be going back to LA with this group exhibition – our first time was a great success and we’re looking forward to going back. The programme for the week includes a group exhibition and an exciting auction of the artworks, held in collaboration with Sotheby’s as well as a panel discussion co-organised with the Art of the Middle East Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The panel will be exploring the tremendously impressive and multidimensional work and career of Fereydoun Ave. The exhibition is in his honour. Our panellists are also key and highly knowledgeable figures in the world of contemporary Iranian art - Dr. Shiva Balaghi, Roxanne Zand and Fereydoun Ave himself. The panel will be moderated by MOP’s art director Fereshte Moosavi.


FBB. The auction will be conducted by Andrea Fiuczynski, Chairman of the Americas for Sotheby's. Talk to us about your selection of artists for the upcoming auction at Sotheby’s.

We’re very excited to have Andrea Fiuczynski conducting the auction, she is wonderful! With over thirty years of experience in the auction world, she has had an incredible career so far and she generously provides her auctioneering services to charities throughout the world, as well as lecturing frequently at museums.
The artworks, have as always been selected by our curatorial team, bearing in mind our audience in sunny California! The selection includes painting, sculpture and photography, varying from contemporary takes on calligraphy such as in the works by Shadi Rezaei, Fereydoun Omidi and Iman Raad to more bold statement pieces like the works by Habib Farajabadi and Sassan Behnam Bakhtiar. We also have a playful and interactive sculpture by Dara Gallopin, mimicking the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland!


FBB. Alongside a spectacular work by Fereydoun Ave, and three lithographs created by H.I.M. Farah Pahlavi, this exhibition will feature artwork by twenty emerging and established Iranian artists based in Iran and the diaspora. Any other interesting names we should know about? 


Well, they’re all interesting and we’re very greatful to all of their generous support! Almost all of the works are by well known Iranian artists and many of our contributing artists have donated pieces to Magic of Persia before, such as Shahriar Ahmadi, Mohammad Bahabadi, Mohammad Bozorgi, Abol Atigetchi to name a few - We do have some first time contributing artists participating though, such as Armin Amirian, Ghalamdar and Marjan Nemati, whose works reflect contemporary art from a younger generation of Iranian artists.


FBB. This event will also feature an exclusive premiere of a documentary film about Fereydoun Ave. Can you tell us more.


Yes we’re also very excited about that! The project initially began four years ago, and has only just been completed this summer, in fact, the subtitles are being applied for the special screening, as we speak. The process took a long time as the filmmakers were based in Tehran and due to Fereydoun Ave’s busy travelling schedule over the years. The documentary is a joint effort between Omid Bonakdar and Keivan Alimohammadi and edited by Arash Zahedi-Asl. Omid is an independent director and screenplay writer based in Tehran and is both co-director, producer and photographer of the film. This is a great opportunity to screen the film at an academic institution like the LACMA. Unfortunately, the filmmakers won’t be present at the screening themselves.



Fereydoun Ave, Postcards from Iranestan, 3D print on card mounted on foam board, 80 x 100 cm, 2013


Abol Atighetchi, Hobb (Love), acrylic on canvas,  90 x 130 cm, 2010

Sassan Behnam Bakhtiar, Water Has Wings, luster photo paper, 80 x 120 cm, 2016


Habib Farajabadi, Untitled, crayon and pencil on paperboard,  36 x 45 cm, 2015


Armin Amirian, Analogy I, digital c-print on, 70 x 100 cm, 2012


 H.I.M. Farah Pahlavi, Royal Air Maroc From Agadir to Paris, lithograph, edition 8/10, 80 x 105 cm, 2011

Iman Rad, Shahb 3, silkscreen on canvas, 110 x 250 cm, 2010


 Ghalamdar, A Metaphor, mixed media on cardboard, 80 x 120 cm, 2016




Fore more information:




Please reload

© 2015 - 2020 Fondation Behnam-Bakhtiar.