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Rossi & Rossi and Janet Rady Fine Art are delighted to announce: Fire of Love, Amin Roshan’s
first solo exhibition in London.
Amin Roshan is an Iranian multi-disciplinary artist whose output is deeply informed by his
Bahktiari tribal heritage and his family’s involvement for many generations in the country’s oil
industry. Roshan was born in the Naftoon district of Masjid-i-Sulamain in the Khuzestan Province
of southwestern Iran, where the first oil well in the Middle East was discovered. His formative
years were shaped by the physical presence of oil in and around the streets where he grew up.
The family re-located to Ahwaz, a city in the South West of Iran near the border with Iraq, when
Amin was a child. Here he later trained in graphic design and so broke the family tradition of
employment in the oil industry.
His works draw on archive materials with oil, literally and metaphorically, sourced from home. The
role played by the British alongside the Iranians in the establishment of the oil industry lies at the
heart of his compositions. Historical British-produced maps, standard issue helmets and blow
torches are re-purposed as works of art with the deployment of crude oil and tea, the much loved
beverage. Vintage photographs of key political players and events, Bahktiari grave stones,
scenes from the Iran-Iraq war battle front and oil well heads demonstrate the clash of
civilisations and the socio-political and economic developments which ensued in the wake of
the exploitation of oil. Refreshingly, Roshan’s works neither condemn nor celebrate the oil
business, rather he presents the cautionary view of an informed insider fluent in the complexities
of the subject.
Amin Roshan is a multidisciplinary Iranian artist whose practice is deeply informed by his Bahktiari tribal heritage and his family’s involvement for many generations in the country’s oil industry.
It is not easy to say why I have chosen oil. Living in an oil land and an oil family is not the sole answer. The main reason may be its extensive impact and influence, not only on my life and my family, but also on the geography of Iran.
British presence in “Masjed Soleiman” city was the onset of Iran and Middle East industrialization. Britons lived there for 60 years, some were born and some were died in the city, their graves can still be seen with English fonts; the only intact relic. However I can see a lot of British relics, like its effect on my tribe “Bakhtiari” language and dialect, who still use English words. I was also influenced by this event.
Once, in December 1919, Henry Berenger said: “He who owns oil ... has empire.” Though correct Berenger words, oil brought a flood of loss to the land of Iran, lasting up to date, instead of empire.
I was born where the first oil well in the Middle East was discovered, Naftoon district of “Masjed Soleiman” city located in the southwestern of Iran, somewhere near the border of Iran and Iraq.
My grandfather was a hardworking laborer who worked on these wells for many years. After retirement, he was replaced by my father who retired after 34 years and my older brother took his place. I was 12 years old when my family left the city because of toxic gases release, but all the memories are still vivid to me. Smell of oil streams, childhood games with tar, walking over oil pipelines in the way of school ..., all are still alive for me. Today I draw these childhood images on painting canvas with oil material, crude oil. I collect this crude oil from a valley in Masjed Soleiman. The oil accumulates there from about a hundred years ago and converts the soil to a strange matter, something like black mud but with the color and smell of oil.
21 Georgian House
10 Bury Street