Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and the Legacy of Jean Cocteau
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”.