Poetic Licence

Poetic Licence

The Tehran-born master craftsman Reza Lavassani talks to Artscoops about how he moves from thinking to living out his ideas through his work. 




While poetry is undoubtedly a key source of inspiration for Reza Lavassani, the renowned Iranian artist’s definition of that genre is, perhaps, broader than we might assume.


Lavassani explains that he is as likely to “sense” poetry in an old building or dress as in famous lines or beautiful words from literature and mythology.


“I live out my ideas and my ideas are my world views that are generally reflected in such structures,” he explains. “These notions are within so many things and concepts that surround us today, and that is the source for me. Not necessarily the actual things I have read and loved, although in my thinking I refer to them a lot.”


Born in 1962 in Tehran, Reza Lavassani garners admiration for both his oil paintings and sculptures in equal measure, although he says he favours neither.


“What’s important for me is not so much the medium I choose, rather the initial drawing and sketch and process of reflecting my world view,” he says. “This world view may be reflected through a painting or a piece of sculpture I make.”




One of Iran’s best-known artists, Lavassani has several accolades to his name, including UNESCO’s Noma Concourse (2007) (1994). The artist, who received a BA in Painting from the University of Tehran’s Faculty of Fine Arts in 1991, also won first prize at Tehran’s 4th Biennial of Sculpture and 6th Biennial of Illustration. He has held several solo exhibitions in Iran and participated in numerous group shows and art fairs both at home and abroad. His work can also be found in private collections worldwide. 


Lavassani is known for adopting a meticulous approach in his work, be it creating myriad preparatory drawings and sketches or developing techniques, such as papier-mâché, to create a range of adventurous shapes and forms. “I have always been engaged directly with design, investing most of my attention and care into it, so I guess that is what I have mastered throughout the years,” he says.


His work is constantly evolving, adding to what has gone before. As Lavassani explains, “There is recurrence and continuation in what I create.”


Examples, he says, include his signature trees, horses and birds, which have their roots in literature, especially Persian poetry, but have evolved over time. “Each is unique and special but comes from the same place,” he notes.


Regional developments, Lavassani says, never influence his work directly, although he admits his emotions may well permeate his art. “I respond to them somehow in my works, but that’s a very unconscious effect if it exists at all,” he says. “I am always working on something; that’s what I do every day of my life.”

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