Farmanfarmaian’s ‘Khayyam Fountain’ on view at Al Hamriyah Studios in Sharjah

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Sharjah Art Foundation has taken on long-term loan late Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s ’Khayyam Fountain’ which is now on view at Al Hamriyah Studios in Sharjah.

It is indeed apt that the installation finds its initial home in Al Hamriyah Studios where the artist’s final retrospective was presented by the Foundation in 2019.

In one of her most ambitious realized projects, ‘Khayyam Fountain’, the artist draws inspiration from the polymath Omar Khayyam, known for his work on cubic equations, his influence on the development of the Persian calendar as well as his poetry, widely translated into English as the Rubájyát.


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For this homage, Farmanfarmaian interleaves multi-sided shapes — triangles, pentagons and hexagons — to form a tower that rotates precipitously above a hollow base, creating varied refractions of light at different times of the day. The form of the fountain evokes the metaphor of water as a constant fount of life.

“Presenting this work in Al Hamriyah Studios has particular significance as it is the site of the artist’s final retrospective during her lifetime, organized by the Foundation in 2019,” said SAF Director Hoor Al Qasimi.

“The long-term installation of ‘Khayyam Fountai’n commemorates Farmanfarmaian’s significant and influential artistic practice and reflects the Foundation’s commitment to providing a platform for artists from the MENASA region. Its prominent and central location in Al Hamriyah Studios makes it accessible year-round to the local and international audiences that take part in the Foundation exhibitions, public programs and residences, and we are looking forward to the work becoming a long-term fixture for the public to enjoy and experience.”

The last major installation to be completed by the artist, ‘Khayyam Fountain’ was commissioned by Bruges Triennial 2018: Liquid City, Belgium.

On long-term loan to Sharjah Art Foundation, Khayyam Fountain finds its initial home in Al Hamriyah Studios where the artists’s final retrospective, ‘Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Sunset, Sunrise,’ co-curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, was presented (October 12– December 28, 2019) in collaboration with the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Ireland.

‘Sunset, Sunrise’ was first presented at IMMA from August 10 to November 25, 2018, and was co-curated by Rachel Thomas (Senior Curator, Head of Exhibitions, IMMA) and Hoor Al Qasimi (Director, Sharjah Art Foundation).

Born in Qazvin, Iran, in 1924, Farmanfarmaian who passed way in 2019, had a distinguished career spanning six decades during which she explored the repetition of patterns and forms in Islamic art and architecture to form colorful motifs.

The works were fashioned out of glass, mosaic, paper, and fabric.
The result is a kaleidoscopic body of abstract works that brings together her interest in minimalism and the craftsmanship of 16th century glass and mosaic sculpting in Iran.

According to Omar Kholeif, SAF Senior Curator and Director of Collections, “’Khayyam Fountain’ is an installation that captures the imagination with its complexity, specifically its ethereal interplay with light, and was one of Farmanfarmaian’s most ambitious artworks. In Sharjah, it is given a new lease of life. Surrounded by windows, beams of light activate the artwork’s myriad glass formations, its tessellating forms change with the day, revealing Farmanfarmaian’s passion of turning glass into an active and animate material — a form of cinema.”

Admission to Al Hamriyah Studios is free and it is open to visitors from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, Saturday to Thursday, and from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Friday.

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