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>> Deutsche Bank Art at Art Frankfurt / Deutsche Bank is sponsoring Frieze Art Fair
>> Sugimoto meets Holbein / Far Near Distance: Parastou Forouhar

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Sugimoto meets Holbein in Frankfurt's Städel

In an illuminating juxtaposition with Hans Holbein's masterpiece paintings, Hiroshi Sugimoto's portraits of Henry VIII and his wives, created on commission by the Deutsche Guggenheim, can be seen on loan by Deutsche Bank Art through May 23 in Frankfurt's Städel.

Hiroshi Sugimoto:
Heinrich VIII, 1999
Deutsche Bank Collection
Hiroshi Sugimoto:
Jane Seymour, 1999
Deutsche Bank Collection

The larger-than-life black and white photographs of the wax figures of Henry VIII and his six wives seem disturbingly real as they confront the visitor in the rotunda of Frankfurt's Städel. The photographs of these famous historical personalities, which the Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto has staged in careful arrangements before a dramatically lit black background in Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London, demonstrate the gap between photographed and experienced reality with nearly hallucinogenic precision.

On the occasion of the Holbein exhibition Der Bürgermeister, der Maler und seine Familie ( The Mayor, the Painter, and His Family), which can be seen through May 23 in Frankfurt's Städel, Sugimoto trifft Holbein ( Sugimoto meets Holbein) provides a unique chance to see Sugimoto's works from his Portraits series in close proximity to the painted originals of Hans Holbein the younger. The comparison is both stimulating and disturbing: Sugimoto's black and white photographs come across as contemporary copies of old master portraits and derive their aesthetic appeal from a two-fold media refraction: the transferal of the two-dimensional representation of the 16th century paintings into plastic form and the real material of the wax copies, and from there back into two-dimensional photography. The almost surreal presence and entrancement of Sugimoto's photographic works remove them from their original context and call for a meditation on time, history, and memory.

In the juxtaposition of contemporary art photography with the art of the perhaps most photographic of all great German masters, the presentation of Sugimoto's works can also be understood as a programmatic prelude and connecting link to this spring's upcoming photography exhibitions at the Städel: visitors to the museum can already look forward to the works of August Sander and Charles Sheeler.

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Anne Boleyn, 1999
Deutsche Bank Collection

Parastou Forouhar in the exhibition "Entfernte Nähe"

The artist Parastou Forouhar, who was born in Iran, has been fighting for years to shed light on the circumstances surrounding her parents' murders. Her drawings, which are part of the Deutsche Bank Collection, portray the everyday terror of the mullah bureaucracy. Now, Forouhar's work can be seen in the oppressive installation Werkreihe Bemusterung / Work Series Patterned in the exhibition Entfernte Nähe / Far Near Distance at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.

Parastou Forouhar: Untitled, from the series "Take off your shoes",
2001/2002 ©Deutsche Bank Collection

The Iranian-born artist Parastou Forouhar has been living in exile in Germany since 1991. Following her studies at the art school in Teheran, she came to Offenbach in 1990 to refine her understanding of graphics and design. Iran's history, however, pursued her, ultimately leading to tragedy: on November 22, she received the news that her parents, the regime-critical politicians Darjush Forouhar and Parvaneh Eskanderi, had been murdered in their apartment; a serious effort to find their killers never occurred.
From this moment on, it became clear to Parastou Forouhar that she had to use her art to fight against injustice, terror, and more than anything else the silence in Iran. She has been trying to shed light on the circumstances of the crime committed against her parents ever since. She traveled to Teheran again and again to speak with officials and request an investigation - in vain. What remains is an endless written correspondence with the mullahs responsible, including numerous drawings in which Forouhar depicts the harassment of everyday Iranian bureaucracy. Thus, her series Schuhe ausziehen ( Take off your shoes), which was made between 2001 and 2002 and acquired by the Deutsche Bank Collection, serves to come to terms with both memory and personal grief.

Parastou Forouhar: Nr.1, from the serie "Gabel,
Werkreihe Eslimi", 2003 ©Parastou Forouhar

Even while Forouhar continually attacks the political intrigues in Iran, she still seeks the formal language for her artistic work in the present-day culture of her home country. This was why the curator Rose Issa invited her to take part in the exhibition of contemporary Iranian artists with the paradigmatic title Entfernte Nähe. The result is her installation Werkreihe Bemusterung, built inside an extra container, a garage-sized corrugated tin box furnished with preciously decorated pillows. It's only when they're seen up close that the pattern reveals itself to be a web of knives end to end, and the terror of a totalitarian regime emerges beneath the surface of thin fabric. The visitor becomes immediately drawn into this tension between refined form and violent symbol. This synthesis of the elements of design and architecture in Forouhar's work makes the gap in the restrictive Iranian social order palpable - quietly surrounded by a prison in which the visual norm dominates.

The installation Werkreihe Bemusterung by Parastou Forouhar can be seen through May 9 in the exhibition Entfernte Nähe in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.