Iran Bars Parviz Tanavoli from Leaving the Country

The Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli has been banned from leaving Iran for the second time in the last two years. According to the Art Newspaper, Tanavoli tried to board a British Airways plane in late July, but after he checked in, his passport was seized by the Iranian authorities. They informed the artist that he was not allowed to travel because charges of “spreading disinformation” were brought against him.

Tanavoli later learned that the travel ban was being enforced over an ongoing dispute he has had with the Tehran-based dealer Maryam Goudarzi. The artist thought that the case had been settled after a court dismissed a complaint filed by Goudarzi in 2014. However, she brought it to an appeals court, and without his knowledge a travel ban was reinstated. Tanavoli was also prevented from leaving the country in 2015.

The eighty-one-year-old artist claims that Goudarzi knows that he has family in Europe and Canada and is trying to retaliate for allegedly breaching a contract that was signed by Goudarzi and her partner Amir Bahman Amirian, the founder of the Iranshahr Gallery in Tehran. Amirian told the Art Newspaper that he is not involved in the case.

The discord between the artist and the dealer revolves around six copper sculptures by Tanavoli. Goudarzi first approached him about the works, which were produced in the 1970s, because she was allegedly having difficulty selling them. She asked Tanavoli to buy them from her, but he suggested that she exchange them for newer pieces instead.

Sometime after the trade, Goudarzi declared that the more recent works were worth less than the original six from her collection and demanded that either they be returned to her or Tanavoli compensate her for them. She allegedly bought the pieces for around $270,000 but claims the court declared their value to be around $6 million. 

Tanavoli said that the artworks’ value could not have increased that much in such a short time. An online petition, which currently has nearly five hundred signatures, has since been launched on his behalf.