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'My art is not really political,' Iranian-Canadian sculptor says

Celebrated Canadian-Iranian sculptor Parviz Tanavoli was barred from leaving Iran three weeks ago

July 25, 2016

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Tanavoli tried to leave Iran to go to England for speaking arrangements.  6:43

Celebrated Canadian-Iranian sculptor Parviz Tanavoli — who had his passport confiscated by Iranian authorities and was barred from leaving that country three weeks ago — said though he has been allowed to return to Vancouver, he intends to still do work in Iran in the future.

Tanavoli, 79, a widely respected sculptor whose art has been sold around the world, said that Iranian authorities seized his passport on July 2 when he tried to leave Iran to go to England for speaking arrangements.


He said that Iranian officials told him someone may have had a grudge against him and arranged for him to be detained, but said he is still not entirely sure of the reasons he was stopped when he tried to leave Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport.

Tanavoli's daughter Tandis told CBC News that her father "was told that his art disturbs the public peace and spreads lies."

Tanavoli told Our Vancouver host Gloria Macarenko that his art is neither sexual nor political in nature — two factors that could have irked authorities in the conservative Islamic country.

"My art is not  really political. My art is based on Persian culture and is usually liked by all kinds of people, usually I am encouraged," he said.

He said that if anyone sees sexuality in his art, it's because it's in the "eye of the beholder."

"I don't do nudity, I don't do sexuality, I don't do political statements in my art. My art is inspired by Islamic architecture, Iranian architecture."

He said that the major reason that keeps bringing him back to Iran is to teach.

"When I go there there is a line up of youngsters, they want to come and study with me they want to work with me they want to be my apprentices," he said.

"Those are the reasons I go back and forth. I feel like I am needed there."

In the video above Tanavoli tells host Gloria Macarenko about why he is determined to keep going back to Iran.

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