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Siah Armajani: An Ingenious World18 September - 15 December 2013

Siah Armajani

Siah Armajani: Alfred Whitehead Reading Room, 2013. Wood, plexiglass, brass, glass, 244 x 366 x 488 cm. Commissioned by Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art on the occasion of the exhibition Siah Armajani: An Ingenious World

Siah Armajani

Siah Armajani: NOAA Bridge, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, 1982. Painted wood, wood, 23.5 x 30.5 x 87 cm. Courtesy of Rudolf Zwirner.

Siah Armajani

Siah Armajani: First Bridge, 1968. Stained balsa wood, 25.4 x 38 x 112 cm. Collection Max Protetch, New York. Photograph: Paul O’Hanlon.

Siah Armajani

Siah Armajani: Wall (detail), 1958. Ink, fibre, watercolour, twine on cloth, 42 x 77 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Beam Contemporary Art, New York, London. Photograph: Larry Marcus.


Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art presents the first major UK survey of Iran-born, American artist, Siah Armajani, who is internationally renowned for his extensive public art commissions, which include bridges, reading rooms and poetry gardens. This exhibition traces the artist’s early works on paper, made in Iran during the late 1950s, to his mature works, including his most recent structure, the Alfred Whitehead Reading Room, 2013, specifically created for the outdoor space at Parasol unit, London.

Armajani’s work is rooted in his own Persian cultural heritage, his knowledge of Western philosophy, literature and poetry, and his interest in American vernacular architecture. His early works are distinguished by a poetic use of Persian script, a manipulation of traditional techniques and a bold vision that employs various media to serve his artistic intent. The combination of text, idea and the peculiar use of space to be observed in these early works has continued into his later works, in many of which poetry or a philosophical statement is an important element.

Armajani’s post university works are often astute architectural models, inspired by generic structures and conveying the idea of house or bridge. In Armajani’s structures the idea always has priority over function. His belief in democracy and open communication as essential requirements for a healthy society, along with his philosophical and political interests, eventually led him to create art in the public realm. His works are housed in some of the world’s most important museum collections.

Born 1939 in Tehran, Siah Armajani now lives and works in Minneapolis, MN, USA.

Siah Armajani: An Ingenious World is accompanied by a comprehensive book, published by Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art. A related programme of educational events and workshops, highlighting the Alfred Whitehead Reading Room, will include creative writing, poetry, lectures and, on 19 September 2013, an artist talk with Siah Armajani. Curated by Ziba Ardalan, Founder/ Director, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art.

Read the full press release.

Parasol unit is grateful for the generous support of Farah and Hassan Alaghband, Beam Contemporary Art, New York and London, Kristi Jernigan, and the Prospect Creek Foundation. Additional support has been provided by Fatima Maleki and Magic of Persia.


Parasol unit has scored a winner. Camden Review

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There's a lot at play in [Siah Armajani]'s beautiful, rough, inviting abstract constructions 4*, Eddy Frankel, Timeout

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 “An Ingenious World” utilized a concise selection of works that provided gallery-goers with an entrée into the diversity, developments and persistent concerns that have defined Armajani’s career. Susan Gibb, artasiapacific

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[Siah] has done much to change the way we think about public art, which is why his life and work is currently being celebrated at London’s Parasol unit. Richard Holledge, Canvas Magazine

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