KĀẒEMI, ḤOSAYN, painter (b. Tehran, Oct.26/1924; d. Paris, 1996; FIGURE 1). Kāẓemi attended Kamāl-al-Molk School of Art (Honarestān-e Kamāl-al Molk) and graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts (q.v.) of Tehran University in 1945.

Kāẓemi was part of a group of painters who started a modern movement in painting in Persia. They opened the first art gallery, Apādānā, in Tehran (1949) where they offered courses in painting and organized lectures and exhibitions. It became also a meeting place for artists and intellectuals. In 1953 he went to France in search of new ideas and experiments and attended the School of Fine Arts (Ecole des Beaux Arts) until 1958. A year after his return to Tehran, he went to Vallauris, France on a French scholarship to study the art of pottery (1959-60). After his return from France, he was appointed the principal of the Boy’s Art School (Honarestān-e pesarān) in Tabriz. He reorganized and modernized the school and on the side published a magazine called Sarv (Cypress) in which European modern schools of painting such as Dadaism, Fauvism, and Cubism were introduced. In 1962, Kāẓemi was nominated principal of the Boy’s Art School in Tehran and at the same time professor at the Faculty of Decorative Arts (Dāneškada-ye honarhā-ye tazʾini). From 1946 on, Kāzemi exhibited his works in cultural centers, art galleries, art museums and Biennals in Tehran, Paris, and Venice.

During his career, he drew numerous portraits in which he showed his exceptional talent. He was commissioned to draw portraits of Reżā Shah and a number of notables and sketched portraits of his friends or men of note to “depict,” as he said, the characters of those dear to him” (Amir Moʿezzi), including Ṣādeq Hedāyat, ʿAli Akbar Dehḵodā, and Malek-al-Šoʿarāʾ Bahār.

In his early years, he explored cubistic forms both on canvas and ceramics. Later, he worked on conceptual duality of figurative and abstract paintings and finally developed his own style based on his mystic thoughts: “What has always engaged my mind is spirituality and mysticism.”(Jaʿfari)

His exhibitions included: American Cultural Center (1946) and Centre Culturel Franco Iranien (1947, 1968, 1967) both in Tehran, Gallerie Romeo-Juliette (1953), Tedesco (1958), Cyrus (1973), Etienne de Causans (1983), and Musée d’Art Moderne (1954) all in Paris and Venice (1964). Copies of his painting inspired by Şādeq Hedāyat’s novella Būf-e kūr (q.v.) were  frequently reprinted. Six months after the 1979 Revolution, Kāẓemi was discharged from his duties and took the road to exile in France. His last years were spent in Paris, painting and teaching.



For a bibliography of reviews on Kāẓemi’s exhibitions and articles on his works, see Moḥammad Golbon, Ketābšenāsi-e negārgari-e Irān, Tehran 1363Š./1984.

M. Amir Moʿezzi, “Moṣāḥeba bā Ḥosayn Kāẓemi,” in Kayhān of London, 18 March 1993.

Vidā Nāṣeḥi-Behnām, “Yād-e raftagān (Ḥosayn Kāẓemi)” in 1 15/4, Fall 1996, pp. 703-8.

E. Jaʿfari, “Interview on Kāẓemi’z life and work,” Radio France International, 4 May 1996.

“Pioneers of Iranian Modern Painting,” Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Nazar Pub. Winter 2001 Tehran.

A. Bordas et G. Gay-Barbier, “Peinture et Spiritualité,” Ed. Noesis, Paris 2002, pp. 81-87.

(Vida Nassehi-Behnam)

Originally Published: May 31, 2013

Last Updated: July 20, 2002

This article is available in print.
Vol. XVI, Fasc. 2, p. 210