Behjat Sadr
Trace through the Black

Behjat Sadr
Trace through the Black

Ab-Anbar Gallery

Behjat Sadr, explaining the functioning of a kinetic work to a child intrigued
by the blinds, Tehran, 1967. Courtesy Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art
January 20, 2016

Behjat Sadr
Trace through the Black

January 22–February 12, 2016

Opening: January 22, 3–9pm

Ab/Anbar Gallery 
No.2 Roshanmanesh alley
Khaghani St., Enghelab St.
Darvazeh Dolat
Hours: Sunday–Friday 12–8pm

Curated by Morad Montazami

Ab/Anbar announces Behjat Sadr: Trace through the Black, a comprehensive solo exhibition spanning over four decades of the renowned Iranian modernist painter’s oeuvre, which will take place at both Ab/Anbar and Aria galleries.

Behjat Sadr: Trace through the Black explores her artistic and intellectual heritage, with archival material, and presenting a rare selection of masterpieces: from her early debate with “abstraction informelle” in the 1950s; to her experimentations around organic forms, trace making, and hallucinatory networks of lines throughout the 1960s and 1970s; up until her “collage” years throughout the (inner) exile and the irrepressible return to her world of futuristic nostalgia.

Sadr is regarded as one of Iran’s most influential and radical Modern painters, due to her abstract paintings of paradoxical traces that blend luxuriant nature with the sharp-edged industrial. Sadr developed this signatory language in the 1950s, bringing together European Modernism and a modernity in Iran. A pioneer of the visual arts in Iran, she was one of the first women artists and professors to appear on the international biennial scene in the early 1960s. Sadr offers the singular testimony of a nascent cosmopolitan modernity that emerged in Tehran, Rome and Paris, in cities where she studied and exhibited, embodying an extraordinary fusion of work and life. 

The influence and legacy of Behjat Sadr as artist, teacher and pioneer of women’s art in Iran and internationally, is a result of her commitment to introducing new ideas to painting through her impressionist-gestural approaches. An approach which led to creating canvases with serene or violent marks on surfaces that allowed for an exploration between the artist’s body and its movement around the surrounding floor space. This performative approach to painting was one she described as “an uncontrollable urge to put her canvases on the floor allowing for the making of larger moves, and offering a greater control over gestures.”

An extended edition in Farsi of the publication Behjat Sadr: Traces (Zamân Books) will be available for sale during the opening of the exhibition.

Behjat Sadr (1924–2009)
After studying at the faculty of fine arts at the University of Tehran, Behjat Sadr went to Rome, where she graduated toward abstract painting and informal art. Leaving frames and traditional colours behind, she used synthetic industrial paints that she ran on supports placed on the ground. Her works have been exhibited in many institutions internationally including Galleria La Bussola, Rome (1958); Venice Biennale (1956, 1962); Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1963, 2014); Grey Foundation, Saint Paul, Minnesota (1971); Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels (1972); Centre d’art Le Noroît, Arras, France (1985); Grey Art Gallery, New York (2010); Asia Society, New York (2013–14); MAXXI Rome (2014–15). In 2004, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMOCA) devoted a large retrospective to her, as part of the series devoted to pioneers of modern art in Iran. 

Morad Montazami
Morad Montazami is adjunct research-curator at Tate Modern, for the Middle East and North Africa, supported by the Iran Heritage Foundation. He is the author of several articles and essays on artists including Farid Belkahia, Bahman Mohassess, Behdjat Sadr, Hamed Abdalla, Jordi Colomer, Jeremy Deller, Francis Alÿs, Zineb Sedira, Allan Sekula and Walid Raad. He was a co-curator for the exhibition Unedited History: IRAN 1960–2014 at Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and MAXXI, Rome. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal Zamân and director of the publishing house ZAMAN BOOKS.

For image requests, interviews and more information about Ab/Anbar: press [​at​]

RSVP for Behjat SadrTrace through the Black
Ab-Anbar Gallery
January 20, 2016

Thank you for your RSVP.

Ab-Anbar Gallery will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.