Photo by: Alireza Fani
Photo by: Alireza Fani

Pooya Aryanpour (b. 1971, Tehran, Iran) is an artist, art instructor, and university lecturer based in Tehran, Iran. While he is best known for his artistic practice and impact on Iran’s contemporary art scene, he is also an innovative interior and studio designer, curator, artistic consultant, as well as a famed national tennis coach and player.

One of the pioneering artists of his generation, Pooya has created a large body of artistic work as well as an extensive discourse and has a wide-ranging influence as an instructor and educator in visual arts.

Aryanpour was born in a unique family and grew up in a specific atmosphere. His father, the late Amir Hossein Aryanpour (1925-2001) was the pioneering Iranian lexicographer and sociologist, and had a great impact as a writer, translator, philosopher, and literary figure during his lifetime. Prior to being admitted to Fine Arts high school, Pooya was homeschooled until his mid-teenage years, going through an exceptional early education.

Pooya Aryanpour started his artistic practice in the mid-1990s, initially focusing on painting. Exploring subject material rooted in the traditions of Iranian culture, symbolism, schools, and styles of narration, storytelling and folklore, Persian calligraphy schools and their impact on artistic traditions, architecture, and painting, his early pieces employed traces of color, abstract forms, and drawing to create mystery and suspense.

Developing his practice, ephemeral forms and lines fused together to create illusions of familiar shapes and structures, including plants, animals, artificial creations, architectural configurations, and impressions of the human body. Such studies led to his three-dimensional pieces, in which he combined practices in architecture, sculpting, and painting inspired by traditional Iranian ornamentation techniques such as mirror-work (Ayine-Kari), adapted to the artist’s vision using a plethora of modern approaches and procedures.

Using such techniques, these three-dimensional pieces often take the observer beyond their physical boundaries, as they create wide reflections that lead to plays of light, lines, and forms that create a sensory presence, not unlike the sense of mystery found in Aryanpour’s paintings. Pooya’s sculptures and sculptural installations, while rooted in the very traditions and thought processes involved in his drawings and paintings, appear as large recognizable forms that involve the viewer in an interactive and performative act by plotting his drawings into intricate mirror-work and projecting them into the space.

Pooya Aryanpour’s teaching practice and style have been manifold aspects of his career, themselves leading to his exploration of collaborative and community projects, curatorial efforts, large-scale initiatives, and continuous endeavors in the development of the concept of the studio, which plays a central role in Pooya Aryanpour’s multi-dimensional practice. Since early in his career, he has designed, developed, and established a personalized concept of “the studio”, resulting in creating spaces where he could work on his practice and artistic projects, build up communities focused either on artwork production or collaborative efforts, develop an educational program and bring students together. The studio has been where he has evolved his philosophy, practice, and intellectual discourse, continuously resisting the ephemerality and temporary nature of Tehran’s socio-political environment and artistic landscape, maintaining a steady pace and force, creating dialogue, and impacting others while remaining constantly open.

Pooya started teaching at a young age and has continued to expand his teaching practice ever since. As so, his creative style in teaching has evolved considerably and has led to substantially engaging with his students, assistants, and collaborators. Projects such as “Nushabad Land Art” (2017, Nushabad, Kashan) and “Industrial Heritage” (2021, Dayhim Art Society, Ghiamdasht, Tehran) are examples of his multifaceted efforts involving teaching, artistic direction, curating, and design.

Pooya Aryanpour studied Painting at the Faculty of Art and Architecture, Azad University Tehran, where he obtained his Master’s degree in 1999. His work has been extensively exhibited, both in Iran and at international biennials, gallery shows, art fairs, and institutional exhibitions.

Aside from his artistic practice and teaching career, he is a prominent tennis player and instructor. In addition to his work as a university instructor, Aryanpour has been continuously supporting and presenting the younger generations of Iranian artists and art students by initiating and curating collective projects and exhibitions, serving on selection committees of several festivals, advising Iranian galleries, and setting up exhibitions, discussion panels, and critical analysis sessions.