Iranian-born Australian artist Hossein Valamanesh dies aged 72

The Art Gallery of South Australia remembers the life and career of famous Iranian-born Australian artist Hossein Valamanesh (born 2 March 1949), who died suddenly on Saturday 15 January 2022.

AGSA Director Rhana Devenport ONZM said: “Hossein’s passing leaves us all deeply shocked and saddened at AGSA – it has been a great privilege for AGSA to work so closely with him for decades and to witness his the extraordinary impact he had nationally and internationally. We have lost a true poet.

Born in Iran in 1949, Hossein entered the art school in Tehran at the age of 15 and graduated in 1970 focusing on political and socially charged work. Hossein immigrated to Australia in 1973 and graduated from the South Australian School of Art in 1977. Drawing inspiration from the cultural and natural worlds of his birthplace and adopted country in Australia, Hossein explored the intertwined spheres of love, spirituality and nature with frequent references. to the artist’s constant interest in poetry, in particular the texts of the Persian poet Jalâl ad-Dîn Rûmî.

Hossein’s work, in his words, has often explored “notions of an essential connection to place, the nature of being, and the transience of existence.” Her practice has embraced a wealth of materiality including sculpture, text, photography, installation, architecture, large-scale public art and the moving image.

Hossein and his wife and frequent collaborator of 46 years, Angela Valamanesh, have been leaders in the national and international artistic community. Angela and Hossein Valamanesh’s art will feature prominently in Adelaide 2022 Australian Art Biennial: Free/State, curated by Sebastian Goldspink, which opens March 4 at the AGSA.

“Despite Hossein’s tragic passing, his legacy will continue to inspire, amaze and resonate with our visitors here at AGSA every day. We are grateful to Angela to soon present her collaborative work with Hossein as part of the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Free/State, which once again demonstrates their rich artistic and personal relationship,” said Rhana Devenport.

Hossein has had over thirty solo exhibitions around the world and his work has been seen in Canada, France, UK, Switzerland, India, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Japan and Iran. Hossein’s major European solo exhibition Since Everything Passes is currently on view at the Institut des Cultures d’Islam (ICI) in Paris until February 13 – with the accompanying publication now available from the AGSA shop.

Several of Hossein’s works are on display at the AGSA, including Untitled, 1994 and After rain, 2013. Hossein’s work is held in many important collections in Australia, including the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, the National Gallery of Australia , Canberra, the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, and Sara Hilden Art Museum, Finland.

His public art commissions are installed in Australia and Japan. Hossein received the Dhaka Biennial Grand Prize, Bangladesh in 1998, a Member of the Order of Australia in 2011, the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship in Washington DC in 2014, and the Art Moving Image Commission of the Film Festival of Adelaide in 2015.

A memorial to celebrate the life of Hossein Valamanesh will be held with details to be announced at a later date.

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