About the exhibition
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Outsider Art From Iran is an exhibition curated by Morteza Zahedi as part of Dastan's Annual Outsider Art Exhibition.

Morteza Zahedi (b. 1978, Rasht, Iran), artist and curator, has been working on his Outsider Art Project for many years, locating, studying and promoting Iranian outsider artists.

This exhibition on Collectionair features works by five outsider artists from different generations, varying in style, material and approach. These artists work outside of confines of the ‘official’ art scene and have not had contact with the mainstream and commercial art world.


Curator’s Note:

‘Outsider’ means unrelated, dis-harmonic, one who does not belong to any group or cult… and Outsider Art is art that is being created and developed outside of the main artistic circles and art scene. Such an endeavor is considered as amateurish by academics and they usually refuse to consider it serious. Outsider Art is a genre of visual arts first mentioned by Roger Cardinal, the British writer, in 1972 as a synonym for ‘Art Brut’ which was used by Jean Dubuffet for works of art created outside the boundaries of official culture. The study of this genre focuses on art that is outside the academic realms of technique, form and knowledge.

Outsider art is in contrast to Insider Art which is defined as official art or art taught at academies and educational institutions approved by the art scene, galleries and the art market.

Outsider art is a form of artistic creation by people who are described as “the masses”, having minimal contact with the art world and the cultural elite, and having received no artistic education, thus not being regarded as professionals and mostly becoming known after their death — and this is a form of discrimination. Outsider artists, create art with innovative and obsessive approaches in a pure sense, without purpose, contact or knowledge of genres and historical contexts, relying on their own passion and not social or financial issues. In most cases, these artists are categorized as sociological case studies and their art should be examined in the context of sociology.

It should be noted that the visual aspects of the works of these artists are replete with a frank expressiveness, thought by many experts —in instances— to have a higher degree of originality and impact compared to mainstream and central artistic endeavors of the official artists."

Morteza Zahedi


About the curator

Dastan’s Basement was established in 2012 in Northern Tehran.  The gallery is dedicated to exhibiting the artworks of the new generation of Iranian emerging artists. Dastan is also devoted to research and education on Iranian visual arts and regularly hosts documentary film screenings and book launches.  These projects include the book launch of “Fereydoun Ave; the Designer”, Bahman Kiarostami’s latest Film/Book Launch and most recently the publication of “Ardeshir Hyphen Seventeen Eighty Seven” about the artworks and times of Ardeshir Mohassess.

Since 2014, the gallery has extended outside the Basement in order to reach a wider audience and to break the confines of a single gallery space. These ventures operate under the framework of Dastan Outside the Basement. The current project Outside the Basement is Sam Art; a 150 meter pop up gallery, dedicated to showcasing the artworks of Iranian masters and established artists in the heart of Tehran’s retail Center.