For the first time in Switzerland, Friart Kunsthalle is presenting a selection of children’s animated films (1971-1975) by the Iranian artist Ali Akbar Sadeghi who was born in Teheran in 1937.
This all-round artist began his career in the 1950s and went through many distinct periods, touching on a wide range of genres and mediums (stained glass, book illustration, furniture, erotic works, sculpture, drawing and oil painting).
His work is rooted in the confluence of surrealism and the rich history of Persian miniatures. The purpose of these was to illustrate the works of Persian poetry, which is expressed through epic poetry, moral tales, lyricism, mysticism and panegyric eulogy and whose golden age was between the 10th and the 15th century.
In his animated films, Sadeghi takes these classical themes and re-appropriates them. The war epic is converted into a peaceful tale in which cannonballs explode into millions of flowers or birds instead of reaching their target. The concept of the bloody duel is also challenged by two warriors who, when the final fight arrives, choose to escape together on a makeshift boat. In another film, in a dreamlike mise en abyme, the last pieces on a chessboard prefer to sit together around the board and start a new game instead of fighting to the end.
The symmetry present in most of his sequences pays homage to the traditional composition of Persian miniatures, while their narrative freedom testify to the penetrating power of the psychedelic movement of the 1960s as well as the legacy of surrealism.
When released in the 1970s, Sadeghi’s films received awards and honours at the major international children’s film festivals: the Paris International Youth Short Film Festival; the Los Angeles International Festival of Children’s Films; the Chicago 11th International Film Festival; the Virgin Islands International Film Festival; the Tehran 9th International Film Festival for Children and Young Adults; the Krakow 12th International Film Festival.
Seven Cities, 1971, 15’31’’
Flower Storm, 1972, 8’20’’
Boasting, 1973, 9’35’’
The Rook, 1974, 10’49’’
The Sun King, 1975, 17’04