November 1, 2018 - Ayesha Shaikh
Old-world charm abounds in the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat studio of Franco-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar. Ayesha Shaikh discovers how the space fuels his creativity.
September 1, 2018 - LUX
Last week saw the private view and opening of French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s latest exhibition. LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai was entranced.
The mesmerising Villa Santo Sospir on Cap Ferrat in the south of France, once home to Jean Cocteau, played host to Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s private view of his Oneness Wholeness with Jean Cocteau exhibition; LUX was privileged to be invited.
August 14, 2018
The Cap Ferrat-based artist is working on a new show responding to the work of the polymath Jean Cocteau
The Mediterranean coast of France has a long and storied history of playing host to artists. Cézanne painted at L’Estaque, and later Picasso and Braque were captivated by the area’s rugged landscape and classical heritage. Andre Dérain and the Fauves found inspiration for their vivid canvases in the shimmering heat of the Mediterranean at Collioure, as did Matisse at Nice. Marc Chagall called Saint-Paul-de-Vence home for 30 years.
The French artist, poet, filmmaker and all-round polymath Jean Cocteau became a part of this tradition in 1950, when he visited a friend, Francine Weisweiller, at the villa Santo Sospir in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. He intended on a two-week stay, yet 12 years later, he was still returning to the villa, to bedeck it with mosaics, frescos and a tapestry. Everything from floor to ceiling was adorned with his works, and the villa Santo Sospir became known as La villa tatouée.
July 11, 2018 - THOMAS BARRIE
The Cap-Ferrat-based artist is opening a new show at the villa Santo Sospir, building on the legacy of one of the twentieth century’s greatest polymaths.
n 1950, the French artist and poet Jean Cocteau visited the villa Santo Sospir in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to stay with his new friend Francine Weisweiller. He was there, he told friends, for a short holiday, following the successful release of the film adaptation of his novel Les Enfants Terribles. Seized by a sudden boredom in the house, and commenting “Idleness tires me, and dries me out”, he asked Francine’s permission to draw the head of Apollo on the wall above the fireplace.
Twelve years later, he was still decorating the house. Yard upon yard of paintings and drawings had joined the initial charcoal depiction of the sun god, as had mosaics and ceiling frescoes and a tapestry. Cocteau indelibly stamped his mark on the villa overlooking the sea; even now, the house is known as la villa tatouée, and remains a shrine to the artist.
Now, French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar is following in his footsteps. After a successful exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London in June, the artist has returned to his roots to open a solo exhibition at the villa, entitled Oneness Wholeness with Jean Cocteau. A resident of Cap-Ferrat, with his own studio in town, Behnam-Bakhtiar felt a link with Cocteau that spanned the decades, thanks to what he calls “a shared vision of humanity”.
May 23, 2018
The French-Iranian artist, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar is one of the first artists to showcase Iran through eastern eyes and to challenge the negative constructs of the western gaze, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s practice aims to change the perceptions and cemented beliefs about Iran and Iranians that persist in the West. The exhibition draws on thousands of years of Iranian culture, weaving ancient Persian motifs, patterns and landscapes into large-scale mixed media paintings, to explore Iranian identity in the 21st century. Descended from the ancient nomadic Bakhtiari tribe, Sassan’s large scale paintings recall the Zagros Mountains in South West Iran that are still home to the tribe, amongst other subjects.
Through exploring his Persian heritage and his dedicated practice of Kundalini meditation, Sassan has used his art as cathartic release, leading him to explore ideas around existentialism, human compassion and wellbeing. Oneness Wholeness will be Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s first UK exhibition since The Real Me, his debut in London in 2014.
May 1, 2018 - KARA KAZANOFF
The most immediately visible characteristic of Oneness Wholeness, presented at the Saatchi Gallery in London, was the strong use of colour. A rainbow of faded pinks, deep-bodied purples, intensely saturated turquoises and greens, Islamic-tile blues, sunset reds, oranges, and light, lemony yellows covered every inch of the gallery space. It took a moment to adjust to the sight, like seeing the bright light of day after being indoors.
Once past the initial sweep of the senses, it became clear that this use of colour was intended to balance very different painting traditions. Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s work has been influenced by the history of European painting – particularly Impressionism – as well as Persian conventions which connect mysticism, meditation and formal repetition. He aims for a holistic approach that is highly ambitious. When it works, it works beautifully.
March 26, 2018 - Claudia Carpenter
Oneness Wholeness, Tree of Life, by Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar in 2017, sold for $15,000 (estimate: $12,000-$18,000). Bakhtiar, who was born in 1984, will exhibit his new series, “Oneness Wholeness,” at London’s Saatchi Gallery in May.