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Bahar Behbahani

Let the Garden Eram Flourish

January 5, 2017, through March 12, 2017
Bahar Behbahani: Let the Garden Eram Flourish installed at Hood Downtown. Photo by Alison Palizzolo.

Bahar Behbahani: Let the Garden Eram Flourish installed at Hood Downtown. Photo by Alison Palizzolo.

Bahar Behbahani: Let the Garden Eram Flourish installed at Hood Downtown. Photo by Alison Palizzolo.

Bahar Behbahani: Let the Garden Eram Flourish installed at Hood Downtown. Photo by Alison Palizzolo.

Bahar Behbahani, Chronicle of the Garden (2016) installed at Hood Downtown. Photo by Alison Palizzolo.

Bahar Behbahani, Chronicle of the Garden (2016) installed at Hood Downtown. Photo by Alison Palizzolo.

Bahar Behbahani: Let the Garden Eram Flourish on view at Hood Downtown through March 12, 2017. Photo by Alison Palizzolo.

Bahar Behbahani: Let the Garden Eram Flourish installed at Hood Downtown. Photo by Alison Palizzolo.

Bahar Behbahani, Adorned with Pillars, from the Persian Gardens series, 2016, mixed media on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery. © Bahar Behbahani. Photo by Adam Reich.

Bahar Behbahani, Adorned with Pillars, from the Let the Garden Eram Flourish series, 2016, mixed media on canvas. Courtesy of the artist. © Bahar Behbahani. Photo by Adam Reich.

Bahar Behbahani, Let the Garden Eram Flourish, from the Persian Gardens series, 2016, mixed media on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery. © Bahar Behbahani. Photo by Adam Reich.

Bahar Behbahani, Let the Garden Eram Flourish, from the Let the Garden Eram Flourish series, 2016, mixed media on canvas. Courtesy of the artist. © Bahar Behbahani. Photo by Adam Reich.

Bahar Behbahani, The Decisions are Made: Activity Begins, 2015-16, mixed media on canvas. © Bahar Behbahani

Bahar Behbahani, The Decisions are Made: Activity Begins, from the Garden Coup series, 2015-16, mixed media on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery. © Bahar Behbahani. Photo by Adam Reich.

Bahar Behbahani, Preliminary Steps, 2015-16, mixed media on canvas. © Bahar Behbahani

Bahar Behbahani, Preliminary Steps, from the Garden Coup series, 2015-16, mixed media on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery. © Bahar Behbahani. Photo by Adam Reich.

Location: Hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH

This exhibition presents a suite of paintings, installations, and video from Iranian-born, Brooklyn-based Bahar Behbahani’s acclaimed Persian Gardens, an ongoing series that she began four years ago. An engineering tour de force, Persian or Iranian gardens have captured human imagination since their emergence in the sixth century BCE. These walled gardens comprise multilateral structures, connecting aqueducts, networks of water channels, and surrounding trees and vegetation that remain lush all year in the middle of the desert. Behbahani explores the intersection of politics and poetics that defines the gardens as contested spaces—objects of beauty that have attracted people from different walks of life throughout the ages, from the Persian rulers who created them to evoke their transcendence and political power to the diplomats, common folk, scholars, and soldiers who have sought out their orientalist enchantment.

Haunted by the spirits of fierce power play, the gardens are marked by tragedy, love, betrayal, death, and redemption, and are thus a metaphor for Iran’s fraught histories, past and present. Works in the exhibition are also personal and cathartic. They enable Behbahani to resolve her conflicted emotions and make peace with the late Donald Wilber, a scholar of Persian architecture and gardens who was also a CIA secret agent. Wilber was the purported mastermind of a 1953 military coup in Iran that ousted democratically elected, beloved, and pro-national prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. This singular mid-century event reshaped Iran’s modern history and continues to impact the present. Behbahani’s compelling visual language in this series draws upon the schematic architectural plans, ritual geometry, and the ornate aesthetics of the gardens, as well as the poetry they evoke, to convey rich and complex narratives.

This exhibition was organized by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, and generously supported by the Evelyn A. J. Hall Fund and the Cissy Patterson Fund.
Curated by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Curator of African Art

Press release 

PDF icon Press Release (535.22 KB)

Related events 

Jan 12
Hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH
7:00PM
Dartmouth Night at Hood Downtown
Jan 13
Hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH
6:00PM
Current members are invited to explore the exhibition just before it opens to the public and enjoy a complimentary wine and cheese reception in the company of the artist.
Jan 13
hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH
7:00PM
Explore the new exhibition, enjoy light refreshments, and meet the artist.
Jan 14
Hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH
2:00PM
In this informal discussion, chat with Bahar Behbahani and Smooth Nzewi, the Hood’s Curator of African Art, about Behbahani’s paintings on view. Limited seating is available.
Jan 25
Hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH
6:30PM
Explore the work of Iranian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Bahar Behbahani and consider the garden as both an object of transcendence and a metaphor for Iran’s fraught histories.
Feb 02
Hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH
7:00PM
Drop in and bring a friend to sketch from a still life and works on view in the exhibition "Bahar Behbahani: Let the Garden Eram Flourish."
Feb 08
Hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH
12:30PM
Gene R. Garthwaite, Professor Emeritus of History, Dartmouth College
Mar 01
Hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH
5:30PM
A docent-led tour of the exhibition "Bahar Behbahani: Let the Garden Eram Flourish."
Mar 03
Hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH
7:00PM
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition "Bahar Behbahani: Let the Garden Eram Flourish."

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