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LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW

Interview with Sculptor Masoud Akhavanjam

The most valuable prizes for the artists are applause and congratulations. The exhibitions and biennials are the places where this happens. I talked with Masoud Akhavanjam, whose two sculptures will be displayed at the 2019 Venice Biennial.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Masoud Akhavanjam

Masoud Akhavanjam

LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW

by Beren Dere

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Masoud Akhavanjam stepped into a life that was intertwined with art when he was born. Studied in Iran, Germany, and the US, then he stepped into the professional life as head of R&D in an industrial factory. The advantage of having a global vision and his ability to use industrial materials led Masoud Akhavanjam to become a sculptor who uses stainless steel to make sculptures. "Dilemma of Man" and "Metamorphosis" are his stainless steel masterpieces. It is possible to see many different animal figures in harmony in the Metamorphosis sculpture, which is inspired by ancient Iranian mythology. In Dilemma of Man, the artist has focused on the conflict of personal and social interests, one of the essential dilemmas human beings have experienced throughout the history, and he symbolized good and evil in the human body. Both of these works will be on display at the 2019 Venice Biennial. I talked with Masoud Akhavanjam about his career and his sculptures that will be displayed at 2019 Venice Biennial.

Masoud, before talking about your stainless steel sculptures Dilemma of Man and Metamorphosis, I would like to learn more about you. How did you discover your passion for art in your father's household appliances factory?

Before answering this question I must explain how my passion for sculptures begun. Ever since I can remember, my father used to sometimes come home with antique artefacts. It might have been anything from an old vase to swords or sculptures. My father currently owns one of the biggest antique collections in Iran. It includes over 30 bronze sculptures, two meters or larger. So I always grew up with artefacts and sculptures and was fascinated by them.

In 2000 when I participated in a kitchen & bath fair in Shanghai China, exporting kitchen sinks to China, there were only two items I brought on my trip, two bronze sculptures of Guangun. When I was in high school in Germany, they taught us how to make ceramic sculptures, and I was so fascinated by them. I took it up as a hobby and subsequently made hundreds.

Later in the factory, I became the head of R&D, innovating, designing and making countless different Built-in appliances, which I was the first to make, design and introduce to the Iranian market. With time the job became more and more redundant to me, and I was looking for something a bit more exciting. At the same time around 2010, I was in the market looking for sculptures to buy. I must have bought more than eight sculptures, but I still wasn’t satisfied! I always found they weren’t voluminous enough, and the choice was both very limited and way overpriced. So using my extensive studies in human research management, my passion for sculptures, my profession in forming metals and my desire to express myself globally as a former global student having studied in Germany, Iran, and the U.S., I saw the perfect opportunity to start creating my own sculptures.

You have studied biology and Applied Sciences. How did your expertise in biology and science contribute to your career in art?

When I received my MBA, I understood this was not enough, and I started an extensive study on Human Resource Management & Innovation. When you look at my works or read about them they mostly involve the social issues that surround us. I feel that an understanding of these is responsible for my success in hiring over 800 workers and employees over 10 years.

Masoud Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man and Metamorphosis - Photo by Alvise Busetto

Masoud Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man and Metamorphosis - Photo by Alvise Busetto

How do you decide to start a new project and run to the end? Do you make a plan or only expect inspiration?

On a basic level, I look for social, political or philosophical issues that I think are important and try to make work that embodies them. Sometimes this is successful, but I also have many ideas that I have been struggling to depict with sculpture.

Two of your stainless steel sculptures "Dilemma of Man" and "Metamorphosis" will be exhibited in Venice’s waterfront park, Giardini Marinaressa, during the 2019 Venice Biennale. How does it feel to be a sculptor who has two artworks that will be exhibited in this famous biennial?

It feels wonderful. I am very grateful for this opportunity. This is an amazing chance to express myself. And of course, I would very much like to thank Janet Rady Fine Art London, which made all this possible for me.

Masoud Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man and Metamorphosis - Photo by Alvise Busetto

Masoud Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man and Metamorphosis - Photo by Alvise Busetto

Could you tell us about "Dilemma of Man" and "Metamorphosis"?

Metamorphosis

Inspired by the mythical figures of the Achaemenid Empire of Iran around 500 B.C., which depict the combination of powerful animals such as lions and eagles to create a stronger animal, I created the sculpture Metamorphosis which is also a mythical figure consisting of different animals. By using a very contemporary and strong material (stainless steel) to create harmony and beauty, I am creating a figure that consists of powerful animals such as a bull and an elephant in combination with less strong animals like the deer. With this, I like to depict the harmony that has been created between the coexistence of the stronger and bigger along with the less strong and smaller.

Masoud Akhavanjam, Metamorphosis

Masoud Akhavanjam, Metamorphosis

Humans have come a long way to tolerate and accept each other in order to coexist, but it seems like we still have a long way to go. And this is where art can certainly play an effective role in creating more awareness, tolerance, and acceptance among people.

Dilemma of Man

During our lifetime we will face numerous moments, some of which are more critical, where we need to make important decisions: where we have to choose between what is beneficial or good for ourselves and what is for the benefit of a greater good or society. We choose between what makes me more powerful, important or influential or what would benefit my people or humanity.

Masoud Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man

Masoud Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man

Among influential people, these choices can have a great and irreversible impact on society. Their choices may determine the path of our lives today and even for future generations. These are some of the dilemmas people have been facing throughout history. And how more influential people have made their choices in each society can be determined by observing a certain society more carefully. Their quality of life, nature, relationships, and well-being are all the fruits of the decisions made by their predecessors when they faced these kinds of dilemmas.

My sculpture depicts a mythical figure which consists of the wing of an angel and the wing of a bat attached to a human body, representing good and evil, and putting the man in a dilemma - his biggest challenge.

What is next for you after 2019 Venice Biennale?

Solo exhibition in Spain, Marbella Art Fair on 30 July 2019.

Masoud Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man and Metamorphosis - Photo by Alvise Busetto

Masoud Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man and Metamorphosis - Photo by Alvise Busetto

What is your favorite sculpture you have created so far?

Of course, I like all my works but if I had to choose one I would say The Dilemma of Man.

What advice would you give to young sculptors?

Sculptures are three dimensional and can have a hugely powerful effect on a room. Evidently, there is an increasing demand for sculpture, so I would tell young sculptors to take their job very seriously, come up with exiting concepts, use durable materials and be patient.

Masoud Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man - Photo by Alvise Busetto

Masoud Akhavanjam, Dilemma of Man - Photo by Alvise Busetto

What do you think about social media? How can our readers follow you?

It is fantastic.

My Instagram: masoudakhavanjam

Anything you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

I think art gives me an opportunity to express myself and perhaps if I were going to give one single reason to become an artist this would be it.

Thank you Masoud for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Masoud Akhavanjam