See the home of “one of the luckiest people on earth”
Iran Darroudi says, “I hope that my museum will soon be complete and that I’ll be able to install each piece of art in the museum with my own hands. I think all Iranian women would be pleased to learn of this historic event: the first female Iranian painter paying for and building her own museum and donating 195 of her works to her own people.”
As reported by ISNA, Mr. Farhad Nazari, the Director General of the Historical Monuments Registry, together with the Director of Public Relations of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, installed a “plaque of remembrance” on the entrance of Darroudi’s home in the presence of a group of journalists.
This event was part of an effort by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage to begin highlighting and preserving homes that are viewed as Iranian cultural and historical treasures.
During the ceremony, the artist emphasized that she has donated everything she owns, and saying, “I even sold my house in France to pay for the museum. The house that I am living in today will be converted to a museum as well. My hope is that visitors will leave with an understanding that they visited the home and workplace of someone who deeply appreciated the great luck and fortune that she had the privilege of experiencing in her lifetime”.
The painter said, “Ever since my childhood, I have always emphasized proudly that I am from Ferdowsi’s land. Without Ferdowsi, who knows what language we would even be speaking in today. I’m happy that last year, at the age of 80, I was able to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for my museum. I had been in the critical care unit of the hospital just before that, and against my doctor’s advice, I left to take part in the ground breaking ceremony and even gave a half hour speech.”
She noted, “It’s fascinating to me, people send me messages saying things like, ‘You are the mother of humanity.’ It is important for one to feel liked when still alive. In my book In The Distance Between Two Points, I write about my life’s hardships. One can achieve anything that they set their mind on. I asked God to make me a citizen worthy of my homeland. I grow up in Mashhad until the age of nine when my father (who was truly a patriot) took me to Ferdowsi’s tomb and said, “Treat this place with the upmost respect, as this is a holy place for Iranians. Our nation owes much to the man buried here.”
“Ever since that day, I made the decision to try and follow Ferdowsi’s example in order to make my father proud. Unfortunately my father passed away some 30 years ago. I ask you as well to remember to speak and write Persian properly.”
Darroudi also mentioned that, “For a period of time I worked at a TV station as a director. During that time, I made 80 documentaries about writers, poets, and artists.”
Darroudi explained that she had once created a profile on Instagram, but “I received so many messages with language mistakes that I decided not to read them and instead deleted my profile. I believe that the Persian language is our identity, and that it’s critical that we respect it and write correctly. Nobody asks to see your birth certificate, it’s by speaking correctly that we show our cultural identity. Even though I lived in France for 62 years, you’ll find that I never use French words when speaking in Persian.”
Darroudi implored her fellow Iranians to love their country, saying, “Please love Iran despite her shortcomings . Love Iran with all its wounds, and its artists with all their weaknesses. I am full of flaws, but I believe in my profession. I haven’t become involved in politics, but my Iranian identity is important to me. Anyone who loves Iran will also tolerates all its difficulties. Iran is more important to me than my own family and even my own self. Our people are silent and don’t speak what they think; but at the same time we support and defend our country when the situation necessitates it.”
She recalled an exhibition of her work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, “At the time, it was amongst the most visited and important exhibitions to have been hosted at the museum. The museum provided multiple halls to display all my paintings as part of the exhibition. An Iranian woman should remember her commitment to our homeland. My greatest wish is that God increases my faith in him, because faith and love of Iran are the two thing that have made me into who I am today.”
Darroudi expressed her wish that her home one day become a museum, saying, “My home is not only a beautiful house, but it’s the place I lived for many years and for which I chose each fitting and fixture with much care and love. There is not one haphazardly chosen item in my house. I don’t know how I’ll ever show my gratitude to God for leading me to the painting profession, which was not a well-known art form in Iran at the time.”
She addressed the female reporters who were present at the ceremony, saying, “Try to have financial independence; then you can display your personality without inhibition. You are the future mothers of this country, so try to leave a mark on the course of history while you can. You should feel a sense of responsibility: it’s your duty to take actions that future generations will thank you for. Compare yourself to an 80-year-old like me. I am still working, even though my physical abilities have declined, as is God’s wish, and which I accept. I haven’t thought of death even for a second. And that’s why I will be your guest three years from now as well.”
Darroudi said that painting is a personal art and stems from the heart, “All I can do is paint my world as I see it. That’s why I have never taught a student. I cannot tell others to see the world like me. I have visited the largest French art schools, but I only learned painting from other painters and not in classrooms. The painting that Ahmad Shamloo named To Be Dominated was painted on the ground in 11 hours.”
“When I was 33 my painting The Oil was published in major magazines around the world. I sold it for a trivial price provided that they print a caption I selected beneath it. The caption explained that humanity has Iranians to thank for civilization, because Iran brought culture and civilization to the world. And today our country’s oil fuels the industrial world. I was presented as one of four Iranian painters in that magazine; after that I decided that I will donate all my art to Iranians. Since then I have not sold my paintings at any price.”
Farhad Nazari, the Director General of the Historical Monuments Registry, elaborated on the memorial plaque that was installed on the entrance to Darroudi’s home today (May 17th, 2018), “The effort which has just been started with Darroudi’s house, was a plan dating back to the 2003 Convention for Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage, entitled ‘The Treasure of Human Life’. The idea is to recognize each of the selected cultural treasures and explain their significance. We tried to identify the candidates in Tehran that give this city its rich and unique identity, one category of which is the homes of artists and celebrities.
He elaborated, “Anyone who is recognized as significant in their field will have one of these azure tiles installed on the home’s entrance, as long as they permit it. This plaque is temporary, but will replaced with a permanent tile soon. The permanent tile will display the artist’s area of work and also their years during which they resided at the property. These artists are shining lights who deserve to be remembered by future generations, which is why we named the plaques “Eternal Tiles.”
Mr. Pouria Souri, the Public Relations Manager of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism, explained that the “Eternal Tile” program “has identified 50 homes in Tehran where a plaque will be installed by the end of next month. We have also requested other provinces to nominate 5-10 candidates each for the program. We hope that whoever joins the Ministry in the future will continue this new endeavor.”
“We have also put a request on the website of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism, asking the public to inform us if they have information about notable artist’s homes. Ms. Darroudi has been living in this home for 48 years; we are also considering to put a plate on her previous residence as well.”
Published in ISNA