A Devotee of Art and Culture
On the threshold of the tenth anniversary of Tavoos Art Magazine, the editorial board and colleagues of Tavoos and Iranian Art Publishing would like to use this opportunity to introduce the publisher, manager and editor-in- chief of this site after her ten years of relentless activity, and venerate her perseverance in maintaining her valuable service.
Manijeh Mir-Emadi (Nasseri) began her activity as an art-publisher in the 1990s presenting a series of bilingual exquisite art books on the life of influential Iranian visual artists together with evaluation and critical analysis of their works. This was indeed a significant event both with respect to book publication and also visual arts.
The appearance of the bilingual Tavoos Art Quarterly in 1999 was another significant effective incident in introducing visual arts in Iran and the world and all this was the result of her efforts and perseverance, while sacrificing one important aspect of her personality, that is painting and her position as a painter-artist.
Although born in Kerman, Manijeh Mir-Emadi is actually from Tehran. Owing to her father’s occupation, an eminent employee of the Oil Company, moving from one city to another, she was born in Kerman in 1948, studying her primary education in different cities for the same reason. She is actually an Iranian who has lived in and traveled to the four corners of her birth-place, Iran.
She entered the Fine Art Department of Tehran University in 1967 to study painting, but after finishing her sophomore year, she left Iran for America (1970) to continue and finish her studies in the same field at Maryland State University. She then went to Oregon University where she accomplished her Master degree in visual arts. After returning to Iran in 1975, she began to work in the graphic design department of the National Radio and Television Organization, Jame Jam. Her last post before her resignation in 1981 was executive manager of the same department.
She then devoted herself totally to painting throughout the years of the Iran-Iraq war. Her resignation from the national radio and television organization coincided with her marriage with Dr. Jamshid Nasseri who has been her most important supporter, always encouraging her to maintain her career as an artist. Her first solo exhibition, held at Seyhoon Gallery in 1991 reflects her fears, anxiety and bewilderment in regard to war, loneliness and homesickness manifested in the collection titled: Desert Inhabitants.
In 1991, feeling a deep responsibility toward the ambiguous fate of visual arts in Iran, she planned to publish 30 exquisite bilingual volumes on the life and works of significant influential contemporary Iranian artists, the history of architecture, photography, music, painting and… She managed to publish 13 volumes of this collection in ten years, by Iranian Art Publishing which she had founded, covering the first part of the above project.
The published collection provides an introduction, analysis and evaluation of Iranian modern art since the beginning of twentieth century venerating the work of modernist influential forerunners and introducing them to young artists and art-lovers who as the result of the war and other social changes were not adequately familiar with the history and the significance of their artists and also to contemporaries and forerunners who had lost contact with the public and art-lovers.
As the production of each one of these books required tremendous amount of time and energy, without necessarily bringing about the necessary effective wide-spread impression she had in mind, Manijeh Mir-Emadi founded Tavoos Art Quarterly with her own resources and the loving support of her husband Dr. Naseri in 1999, in order to accomplish the goals she originally wished to actualize through book publication. Understanding the social conditions and the imperative to introduce Iranian visual arts to the young generation, artists, and art-lovers throughout the world, and with the same feeling of responsibility, the first issue of Tavoos appeared in 1999 in the form of an exquisite bilingual magazine with an exceptional layout and graphic design filling the empty place always felt for such an all-embracing art periodical on Iranian visual arts. In an interview with Tandis (no.180, 19 Mordad (10 Aug), 2010, Bijan Jenab, the graphic designer and art manager of Tavoos Art Quarterly, in reply to the question in regard to his most successful work as a graphic designer, says: “… One of the two of my successful works – according to contemporary graphic designers – was a cultural work… commissioned by Tavoos Magazine which was a real success on an international scale, carried out with proper disciplined management and thoughtful research.”
The name of Tavoos is recorded as ‘the first’ bilingual art magazine in the history of Iran, as a semi-encyclopedia introducing, evaluating and critically analyzing artworks, determining their position in the Iranian art history, particularly in relation to the new avant- garde generation, just joining the art scene; a medium for expressing love for Iranian Art and Culture, presenting noteworthy periods and styles in various fields of Iranian art and culture - from visual arts, cinema, theater, sculpture and modern art to architecture and archaeology. Its excellent artistic and print quality, its brilliant unique graphic layout and design, its board of advisors, the remarkable quality of the paper used, the vigilant supervision of the whole printing process with the result that art-works were reproduced in the best possible way and not with the low quality usually reproduced, the configuration of its working group and care and attention paid to all stages of this process, from the conception of ideas to postal delivery of the published magazine to its clients, brought about a radical change in the quality of other art magazines and periodicals including those appearing in the field of architecture and graphic in Iran.
Adversities, difficulties in the field of publication as well as perhaps various sabotages were the main causes of the cessation of Tavoos publication after the appearance of its sixth issue in 2001 - even though the next four subsequent regular and four special issues were already prepared for publication. Yet, about six months before that sad event, Tavoos electronic news-letter had begun to appear after a period of trial and error giving birth to Tavoos website, which now after ten years has proved to be one of the most important sites on Iranian art and artists active in Iran and in the rest of the world, and a medium for putting young modernist avant -garde artists in contact with the latest artistic changes throughout the world.
Manijeh Mir-Emadi’s approach to initiation and establishment of Tavoos website was to pursue her goals previously manifested in the form of books and quarterlies, now in a more effective, efficient and extensive way. Art news which in the form of a quarterly periodical automatically may become outdated are now presented and updated even on a daily basis if required, covering all spheres of artistic activity, from news on general art happenings and events to what is going on in art galleries, cinemas, theaters; to successes of Iranian artists throughout the world, with special sections on selected artists, profiles and young artists in an attempt to offer moral and intellectual support and encouragement to the new generation of artists who will make the future art and culture of this land. In this way, they will be efficiently capable of accomplishing the vocation Mir-Emadi undertook twenty years ago with the necessary perseverance and perfection in critical and careful evaluation of their works which is the outcome of her deep knowledge of the art history of Iran and the world.
Another outstanding appreciable feature of Manijeh Mir-Emadi is her role and position as an art collector. After her return to Iran she began to buy and collect art-works with the main intention to financially support Iranian artists, encouraging her friends to follow her example. The collection she has compiled is indeed an illustrative reproduction of Iranian visual art history.
At present Manijeh Mir-Emadi has returned to what she temporarily abandoned 20 years ago due to her deep love and attachment to publication of Iranian arts, that is painting. As a member of editorial board of Tavoos with a long history of friendship and cooperation with Iranian Art Publishing, Tavoos Art Quarterly and Tavoos Website, I sincerely hope to see her on the scene of Iranian visual art as a painter apart from her continuous efforts in presentation of Iranian art and artists. Although each time she faced the question, why she does not paint anymore, she replied that she paints with Tavoos Art Quarterly and Tavoos’ beauty is a reflection of her paintings, continuing in the beautiful graphic form and content of Tavoos website, but now perhaps it would return to the framework of canvases.
I know that from the beginning of this autumn of 2010, and on the threshold of the eleventh year of Tavoos website, the users will witness changes in the content of this medium and her efforts in continuing the work of publication will manifest in exquisite bilingual volumes on visual art artists and the contemporary history of Iranian painting.
In 1999, during the 2nd edition of The Publishing and Printing Festival held in the Tehran Book Fair, Manijeh Miremadi received the Golden Award for the best production and publishing management in Iran. She has also written several articles introducing Iranian Artists and Art Specialists which are published through her own publications (Iranian Art Publishing and Tavoos Art Quarterly Magazine).
Manijeh Mir-Emadi’s Tavoos
Writer & Translator: Roya Monajem
Those who crave for Tavoos (peacock)
Should take the trouble to go to India*
Perhaps the meaning of the above verse was Manijeh Mir-Emadi’s unconscious reason for choosing the name Tavoos for what appears to be her main canvas of painting for the past decade or so and hopefully years to come.
A tremendous amount of work, patience, tolerance, confrontation was required to keep painting this canvas, Tavoos Art Quarterly (a mini art encyclopedia), particularly when taking the time-space in a war-ridden country, still lashed by the original waves of revolution into consideration.
Peacock (Tavoos) as the only living bird shining with all the colors of the light-spectrum, is like a permanent museum of color exhibition and thus can be the most fascinating bird for a painter too. For many of us Iranians, it may also associate Simorq, the legendary bird who is born out of its own ashes.
So when Tavoos Art Quarterly had to turn to its own ashes, chiefly as the result of outside circumstances, Tavoos website came to birth out of those ashes, on the same canvas.
Birds also symbolize our high aspirations, longing for liberation and freedom from mundane, profane, and how else could Mir-Emadi as a professional artist stay patient, tolerant, passionate, enthusiastic, if not by continuing to paint her canvas, hoping for liberation to come!
What went through her mind when painting her collection “Desert-inhabitants”, which I got a taste of it when looking through Parvaneh Etemadi’s selected paintings, published by Iranian Art Publishing (her twin canvas), must have been what was later manifested in the form of other books published on the life and work of Iranian influential painters since the rise of modernism here and later in Tavoos Art Quarterly. On these twin canvases she was for the first time recording down the whole art history of this land! Though she was benefiting from the experience and knowledge of a group of professional men, but that wasn’t easy either considering the dominant masculine patriarchal ruling air - still believing candidly and among intellectual men cryptically – that the place of women is in the kitchen, making it difficult to maintain a dialogue and ongoing cooperation.
Who knows perhaps the idea of how to continue her ‘art’ despite the circumstances was cooked in that very kitchen, when serving her kind supportive husband with a delicious dinner!
If by accident or choice, the couple has no children, they lovingly have been the godparents of several artists, young and old, by buying their works and supporting them so that they could afford to buy paints and canvases to continue their creativity; after all art and artists can hardly survive without sponsors!
Knowing the limited time span we are each given, it is indeed a blessing when one sees one’s wishes, aspirations are being actualized by others. This was my feeling when I first joined Tavoos, some eight or nine years ago to translate what turned out to be a unique collection of articles on the city of ‘half the world’ Esfahan, which were written with her moral and financial support by the corresponding professionals. Publishing books on Iranian Architecture were also among the sketches and drawings she had carried out for her canvas. Alas! Its publication, like the one on Iranian Music, Cinema, Theater and… had to be suspended for financial reasons.
Art and artists need sponsors, particularly when high quality and professional approach is the first guiding principle.
This was the other blessing for me, to be able to encounter and work with one of these rare individuals who keep to their own individual principles in a quite professional way at any price, rather than to go with the ruling charlatanism here and else-where, with the end result of living like parasites on others’ labors, innovations, efforts and… in Hafez’s words:
It is time for blood to surge in the heart of ruby
For the loss caused by cheap pottery in its market
So let’s all celebrate the tenth anniversary of Manijeh Mir-Eamdi’s masterpiece Tavoos-Art-Publishing as her colleagues and visitors of her gallery (Tavoosonline) and wish her a lasting determination and strength to materialize the rest of her sketches, drawings and painting which if not now, but for sure one day will be proved to be the greatest service to the Iranian arts, in this time-space.
*An old Persian proverb