Contemporary And Modern Art Gallery CAMA arrives in London with the vision to build a brand representative of a love for art that knows no boundaries.

Responding to increasing international demands for Iranian art both in the Middle East and beyond, CAMA strives to carve out a new space for Iranian art and culture on a global scale. A registered international institution, CAMA dedicates itself to supporting Iranian artists, both celebrating established masters and attracting and popularising new talents. Miro meets the CAMA Gallery Team to discuss their mission to promote an inclusive and unbound artistic community.

 

“Art knows no boundaries, art knows no borders.”

– CAMA

 

Bita Vakili Fish & Coral from Shahrivar, 2014

How did the original concept and beginnings of CAMA evolve?

 The name CAMA stands for Contemporary And Modern Art, and was chosen as it aptly outlines our mission to introduce both contemporary and modern Iranian artists and artworks to a wider audience. It also has some historical context; one of the oldest Shahnameh books by the great 10th century Iranian poet Ferdowsi bears the same name. Ferdowsi is recognised as one of the forefathers of Persian culture, and the Shahnameh, which took 33 years to complete, is the longest epic poem by a single poet. The book CAMA, today preserved at the Oriental Institute, in Bombay, India, was one of the first examples of the use of illustrations in the Shahnameh. To this day, the poem as a whole continues to impart a profound influence on Persian art and culture. For this reason, we chose it as our source of inspiration.

CAMA Gallery has been founded upon the desire to introduce and exhibit Iranian artists to the international art market. The idea was formed through a series of meetings with specialists from all over the globe, including highly regarded players and experts in the Iranian art market as well as Iranian and European economic consultants. Through the coming together of internationally minded art experts and enthusiasts, we identified a vacuum in the international art market: Iranian art. Consequentially, we felt it was our mission to celebrate and disseminate the most prestigious and exciting Iranian art, responding to a growing interest while also using the remarkable quality of our artists’ artworks to generate a new recognition of Iranian art.

Hossein Ali Zabehi Untitled, 2017

Boosting the economy of art through business in order to add value and service is important to CAMA. How dynamic is the art industry currently? Have you found it challenging to evolve and control elements of the industry to work for CAMA?

Industry and economy are considered essential pillars for the ongoing development of art. The effects of industry capital on the art market and creative organisations are evident and often necessary to activate effective and lasting changes. With this in mind, CAMA seeks to bring together these two different yet linked industries – the concrete world of economics and realm of the arts – to further the develop the Iranian art market. In this way, we aim to add value to Iranian artworks, positioning CAMA Gallery as a leading figure in the Iranian art market.

CAMA Gallery has already set up its roots in Iran, boasting a successful Tehran gallery and an established network of Middle Eastern art and economic professionals. Now that we have also moved onto British soil, looking to the imminent opening the London gallery, the dynamics of our business reflect this expansion and diversification. A project of this kind will always come with challenges, especially when it comes to steering elements of the industry, but we have encountered an overwhelming amount of support and enthusiasm and look to the future with hope and determination.

What were the western markets initial reaction to new Iranian and Middle Eastern talent? Do you have any predictions for the business of this art within the marketplace?

So far we have had a remarkably positive response from the Western markets, especially in Europe. In the last few years, we have witnessed an increasing demand for Iranian artworks in various global art markets – there have been some major successes at auctions and exhibitions. Following such a warm welcome, CAMA is looking to open more galleries worldwide, furthering the presence of Iranian artistry by setting up workshops, exhibitions and shows.

Maryam Salour Untitled, 2007

Tell us more about the CAMA Foundation charity project. How does it aim to support Iran’s artistic community?

A work in progress, the CAMA Foundation Charity Project aims to be a beacon of support for young and established talents alike. We are seeking to create an innovative approach to philanthropy in the arts. Looking to collaborate with other charitable organisations, we are keen to open up new opportunities for aspiring Iranian artists and facilitate their entrance into the international art market. Through a variety of services, from workshops to expert advice, from technical support to networking opportunities, the project will be a comprehensive support network for the Iranian artistic community in and beyond Iran.

Manouchehr Motabar Untitled, 2009

CAMA generates new opportunities with the additional help of masters within the field. Who have you previously worked with so far and hope to work with in the future?

CAMA is fortunate enough to work with a wealth of Iranian masters, such as Parviz Tanavoli, Hossein Zendehroudi, Sohrab Sepehri and Monir Faramanfarmayian. CAMA treasures its collaborations, some of which are with the most well-known Iranian artists, renowned in Iranian and across Western art markets. Many of these artists are globally remembered for having sold their works at auction for record prices. There are however still so many masters living in Iran, whose work has not yet been introduced to the wider market and this is where the CAMA team comes in.

The whole concept is obviously a really exciting way of bringing artistic culture together. What are your thoughts on artist collaborations and how they could enhance this?

Iran has such a rich history of culture, arts, poetry, and theology, and it has long been a historic centre for philosophy, religion and academia. When introducing Iranian pieces to the world, we want to make sure we pay homage to Iranian culture and history and best present the creativity, talent and narratives of the artists with which we work. Such a collaboration transcends borders and boundaries looking at both creativity and a rich history.

Ali Nassir Untitled from Celebration II, 2017

What has been forecast for the future of CAMA both short and long term here in London?

CAMA began with a gallery in Tehran, where a number of visual art exhibitions soon lead to the development of its reputation throughout Iran. Following the success of our first gallery, the London team marked their arrival in London with a launch exhibition showcasing 30 artworks at the end of 2017. The launch of the CAMA gallery in London, which will also be the first Iranian art gallery in London, is an important stepping stone for us. The gallery, set to open in April 2018, will showcase the best of CAMA artists while also featuring rolling exhibitions introducing some of the Iran’s most prestigious and exciting new talents.

As we move forward, we are planning to establish further branches and galleries across the globe, encouraging representatives of Iranian art to take with them the CAMA ethos to all corners of the globe. We have also been looking into opportunities to bring together the artistry of various Middle Eastern artists through a series of cultural exchanges. By creating global partnerships and introducing Iranian artists to major artistic and economic centres, we aim to position CAMA as a leading ambassador of Iranian and Middle Eastern art.

Tell us more about where you see yourself developing CAMA in the future. What would you like to achieve?

We feel honoured to be one of the key organisations introducing previously unseen works to a new audience. We believe in the power of the arts to create positive social change, and are thrilled to be at the forefront of a new wave of multiculturalism and global possibilities for cultural diversity and exchange.

Monir Farmanfarmaian Untitled, 2006

EYES PEELED: April 2018 hopes to see the launch of the CAMA gallery here in London. Featuring the first Iranian art gallery in London, the gallery will showcase the best of CAMA artists while also featuring rolling exhibitions introducing some of the Iran’s most prestigious and exciting new talents.

www.camagallery.com