Ali Akbar Safaian

photos © 2022, Pegah Vaez

Ali Akbar Safaian was born in 1947 in Sang-e Sar, a town in north-west Iran on the slopes of the Alborz Mountains. As a teenager, inspired by pictures at school and around him, he began to stay awake at night drawing the outlines of his sleeping brothers and sisters. In Tehran, he studied art at the Kamal ol-Molk Art Academy. His teachers included renowned Iranian artists such as Hossein Sheikh, Rafi Halati, Mehdi Vishkai and Bahram Alivandi. After graduating in 1970, Safaian worked as a sculptor and painter in Tehran and established himself in the city's art scene. He worked closely with the Seyhoun, Solivan and Mehr Shah galleries. His early work, characterised by a fantastic-surreal imagery, is associated with the avant-garde art movement of 'Iranian Modernism'.
To develop his artistic expression, Safaian travelled to Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Italy and Paris in the 1970s, where he lived and worked for two years. Safaian was forced into exile in the 1980s for his opposition to the Islamic Republic. He lived with his family in Pegnitz, Bavaria. Since 2010, he lives and works in Berlin.



Works from this early period, including the postgraduate years, deal with human and animal figures on the verge of dissolution. The Iranian art critic Javad Mojabi wrote in "Ettealat" about this period: "In designing his paintings, Safaian starts from the point of view of an Iranian miniature painter: he begins to draw the picture from a perspective, without any plan or intention. He is driven by the inspiration of colours and lines". A potentially infinite process - he went on: "The painting is finished without the cubic spaces being completed". 
During Safaian's middle period, the spaces of his works were populated with human, natural and mechanical elements. One of the most important works of this period are "War" and "Peace", in which the fantastic decomposition of space no longer stands for itself, but for the state of the world. 
His subsequent series of mixed-media works were a break with figuration and an exploration of structure.



Since 2004, Ali Akbar Safaian has concentrated on large-format reliefs. This has resulted in two series: 
"Earth Inheritance" and "Inheritance". The first series deals with organic structures. The colours - grey, brown and green - are reminiscent of the earth, minerals and subterranean life. The following series of reliefs "Inheritance" (2006 -) are monochrome.

Selected Exhibitions and Prizes

2023 "Erbe", Galerie F37, Berlin
2021  "Fantastische Welten", Galerie Mommsen 35, Berlin
2016  "ICONS 2003", Galerie Mommsen 35, Berlin
2016  "Der Klang vom Gang des Wassers", KunstbüroBerlin (reading and exhibition, with Kurt Scharf)
2014  "Erderbe", Atelier Sibylle Wagner, Berlin
2009  Cultural Award of the city Bayreuth, Germany
2007  "Research Exhibition on Iranian Contemporary Arts/1960-70s"
Saba Cultural and Artistic Museum - Teheran, Iran (without the artist's consent)
1999  Kunsthaus Nuremberg, Germany
1996  The 9th International Exhibition of Enamelling Art in Tokyo, Japan
1994  AAI-Gallery – Vienna, Austria
1993  British American Tobacco Casino Gallery – Germany
1992  The Boston Consulting Group – Munich, Germany
1992  "Goldene Palette" – Art Award of the "Kunstmarkt"-magazine
1991  Prize with realisation in a competition by the University of Wuerzburg, Germany
1991  Gallery Eurocadre St-Junien – Limoges, France
1991  Gallery Les Carmes – Langon, France
1991  Gallery Francis Layoute – Limoges, France
1990  Steingräber und Söhne – Bayreuth, Germany
1988  Gallery La Palette D´Ór – Rouen, France
1985  Fahangsarai Niawaran „In Memory of Fanizadeh“ – Teheran, Iran
1978  Entesharati Agha – Teheran, Iran
1978  Gallery Sheikh „Five Modern Artist“ – Teheran, Iran
1977  Gallery Sheikh – Teheran, Iran
1975  Gallery Ghandriz – Teheran, Iran
1975  Gallery Ghandriz – Teheran, Iran
1975  Gallery Mehr Shah – Teheran, Iran
1974  Gallery Takht Jamshid „Surrealist Artists“ – Teheran, Iran
1974  Gallery Khaneh Aftab „Painting and Sculpting“ – Teheran, Iran
1974  Gallery Seyhoun „Modern Art“ – Teheran, Iran
1974  International Art Exhibition of Unesco-members – Cannes, France
1974  Gallery Takht Jamshid – Teheran, Iran
1974  Première exposition internationale des arts de Téhéran – Teheran, Iran
1974  Gallery Seyhoun – Teheran, Iran
1974  An aspect of Iranian Contemporary Art, sponsored by Seyhoun Gallery
in cooperation with Gallery Ghandriz – Teheran, Iran
1974  Asian Art on the occasion of the 7th Asian Games – Teheran, Iran
1973  Seyhoun Gallery – Teheran, Iran
1972  Gallery Solivan – Teheran, Iran
1972  Gallery Mess – Teheran, Iran
1972  Gallery Khaneh Aftab – Teheran, Iran
1971  Gallery Khaneh Aftab – Teheran, Iran
1969  Archaeological Museum of Iran – Teheran, Iran