Firooz Zahedi, Elizabeth Taylor/Odalisque I, 1976. Printed 2011

Leila Heller Gallery will present a group exhibition of contemporary Middle Eastern artists living in the diaspora at the first edition of Art Platform – Los Angeles, a new contemporary and modern art fair from October 1-3, 2011 at the L.A. Mart.

The exhibition will feature new and recent work by Shiva Ahmadi, Negar Ahkami, Ayad Alkadhi, Shoja Azari & Shahram Karimi, Reza Derakshani, Amir H. Fallah, Pouran Jinchi, Soody Sharifi, and Firooz Zahedi.

In addition to this group exhibition, there will be a solo presentation of recent work by American artist Rachel Lee Hovnanian. A site-specific installation of Hovnanian’s Fun House Dressing Room, 2009, will be exhibited in the fair’s public space on the lower level.

Another highlight will be photographs from Firooz Zahedi’s Elizabeth Taylor in Iran series, which was recently on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The photographs reveal an insider look at Zahedi’s experience of traveling with Elizabeth Taylor to Iran in 1976, and include gorgeous images of the late icon posing in odalisque costume.

By exhibiting these nine contemporary Middle Eastern artists together for the first time, the gallery will generate a rich and dynamic dialogue that challenges conceptions of art coming from the region and its Diasporas. The work – including painting, sculpture, photography and video-painting – explores the tension between tradition and modernity that is very much at the heart of contemporary Middle Eastern art, as well as the life of the expatriate. While these artists have naturally inherited the artistic language of their culture, they have each successfully integrated it in ways that offer a unique expression and individual style. Ultimately, they have created work that can be experienced and appreciated by the contemporary art audience internationally.

Los Angeles is a city booming with Middle Eastern culture due to its large expatriate community, and has become an important influence on the production of contemporary Middle Eastern art today. Four of the artists being exhibition — Ayad Alkadhi, Amir H. Fallah, Pouran Jinchi, and Firooz Zahedi–have strong ties to the city of Los Angeles, allowing for the opportunity to also explore the influence of Southern California on their working practices, as well as the similarities and differences therein.

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