About us

We had a total commitment to artists and their creative endeavour, an attitude which led to a singular relationship developing between each exhibiting artist and the foundation

The foundation

Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art was a not-for-profit art institution and registered educational charity that operated purely for the public benefit. Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator Dr Ziba Ardalan, the foundation presented challenging and thought-provoking exhibitions and artistic projects by international contemporary artists who work in a variety of media. In March 2020, the foundation had repositioned its activities in favour of an international modus operandi, which meant organising exhibitions and projects around the world as well as in Great Britain.

Parasol unit remained committed to supporting contemporary artists through exhibitions and producing international artistic projects for the public without the restrictions of a permanent gallery space. Due to the dynamic nature of the organisation together with Director’s own passion and commitment to contemporary art, the foundation has focused on international exhibitions in whatever part of the world the dialogue is needed.

Artists and exhibitions

The London chapter of Parasol unit began in 2004 on Wharf Road in East London. The idea started with Ardalan’s deep enthusiasm and unconditional love for art. In its 18 years of operation, Parasol unit gained international recognition for its forward-thinking and ground-breaking exhibition programme and introducing a host of British and international artists to a UK and London audience. The foundation was instrumental in launching the careers of artists such as Rana Begum, Michaël Borremans, Julian Charrière and Yang Fudong and Tschabalala Self and brought established artists such as Siah Armajani, Martin Puryear, Heidi Bucher and Robert Therrien to further prominence with their first major solo exhibitions in the United Kingdom.


Parasol unit, like publicly funded institutions in London continuously strived to raise funds to cover its running costs and hopes to secure its existence for future generations. The one-time donation by the founder was a reserve that allowed the foundation to operate while other funding sources were identified. Overall, the reserve covered about 60% of the foundation’s operating expenses whereas the remaining 40% were financed through Gift Aid scheme, grants from charitable organisations, and private donations. Thanks to an innovative model between private funding and public support the foundation came to exist and thrived.

We thank you for your support.

Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art was a registered educational charity in England and Wales (registered charity number: 1107425).


The last list of Trustees included:

Ziba Ardalan
Trustee + Executive Director

Gabriel Caillaux

Lukas Mühlemann

Claudia Steinfels

Berna Tuğlular

Pierre de Weck
Trustee + Chairman