Kour Pour: New Homes, New Places, Gallery 1957, London
From 24 March to 14 May 2022, Gallery 1957 in London is presenting a solo show by Kour Pour, a British-Iranian artist who spent considerable time in his father’s carpet shop as a child, memories of which have become a central component in his practice. Exhibition review by Sara Makari-Aghdam.
‘Or was home indeed the old house of his childhood with an ancient garden full of big lime trees, nasturtium bushes, little gazebos smelling of sweet baby roses and walnut trees shading the small blue-tiled pools? Full of faces who left us a long time ago, passing by, smiling, carrying food and frosty glasses of sherbet, bringing sweets, poems and songs?
Where is home?’ – Afsoon, Father, 2018
New Homes, New Places at Gallery 1957 in Hyde Park Gate is an exhibition of seventeen mixed paintings and 3D artworks from the recently naturalised American artist, Kour Pour. At 17 years old, the artist left his home in Devon, England for Los Angeles. Originally of British nationality, he is of English and Persian ethnicity, or as Iranians like to say, do’rageh, the term for a person whose parents are from two distinct nationalities. The work on display shows a melting pot of cultural influences taking inspiration from Iran, China, Korea and Japan, as well as Western Art History.
The artist’s first UK solo show, and its title not only reflect Kour Pour’s journey in crossing the Atlantic but also his father’s journey from his home country of Iran to England (and then on to America some years later). The concept of “home” and the idea of belonging to a place is a loaded topic today when for many, to have any such place to call “home” is becoming a privilege, rather than a human right.
In the quote above, the Iranian-British artist Afsoon pays tribute to her Kurdish-Iranian father Fariborz Amirebrahimi, who passed away in Southern California in 2018 at the age of 89, perfectly encapsulating the conflict of the question, “Where is home?” With fanciful visual and sensory qualities that align with Kour Pour’s work—Persian miniatures, tea house installations, and sprawling flora, fauna, and vegetal patterns from traditional Persian carpet designs—the two hold a mirror to the past, offering a glimpse into the way people lived, culture and the preciousness of time.
Eleven of the works in the exhibition are influenced by Ancient Persian art and antiquity. Several silkscreen paintings are based on the visuals of the Persian literary epic, The Shahnameh, by the Persian poet Ferdowsi (977-1010). Dreaming of a Garden (2022) depicts a fantastical springtime nature scene. Phoenixes and nightingales fly amongst the forest branches with budding white flowers and tall cypress trees. Below this, wild deer are suspended mid-jump. Central to the show are several ‘carpet paintings’, a Kour Pour trademark. Inspired by his father’s shortlived carpet shop, which opened in 1980s England. To carpet fans, Home is Where I Lay My Rug (2021-2022) is instantly recognisable as partly replicating the famous Wagner Garden Carpet from the Burrell Collection in Glasgow (recently back on display in the newly renovated museum), whilst adapting it to his own palette. In Kour Pour’s 3D installation works he offers us sweet chayee dagh (hot tea) on tiled mosaic steps as if we are at “home”.