Monir Farmanfarmaian's towering 'Khayyam Fountain' now on view at Sharjah Art Foundation

On long-term loan to the foundation, the installation is considered one of the Iranian artist's most ambitious works

'Khayyam Fountain' by Monir Farmanfarmaian is on view at Al Hamriyah Studios, Sharjah Art Foundation. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation
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Monir Farmanfarmaian's installation, Khayyam Fountain, is now on view at Sharjah Art Foundation's Al Hamriyah Studios.

The unique work is made up of varyingly shaped glass pieces – triangles, pentagons and hexagons – stacked in layers to form a twisting fountain. The Iranian artist, more commonly referred to by her first name, drew inspiration from Persian polymath Omar Khayyam, known for his work on cubic equations.

Presenting this work in Al Hamriyah Studios has particular significance as it is the site of the artist's final retrospective during her lifetime, organised by the Foundation in 2019

Farmanfarmaian’s homage rises above a hollow base and its material causes changing light refractions throughout the day. The form of the fountain evokes the metaphor of water as a constant fount of life.

The last major installation to be completed by Farmanfarmaian, Khayyam Fountain was commissioned by Bruges Triennial 2018: Liquid City, Belgium and is on long-term loan to SAF.

In her decades-long career, Farmanfarmaian gained recognition for her abstract sculptures and drawings out of glass, mosaic, paper and fabric. Inspired by geometry, Sufism and Islamic architecture, she used pattern, colour and repetition to create kaleidoscopic drawings and mirror works that borrowed from mosaic sculpting techniques in her home country of Iran.

"Presenting this work in Al Hamriyah Studios has particular significance as it is the site of the artist's final retrospective during her lifetime, organised by the foundation in 2019," SAF director Hoor Al Qasimi said, referring to the foundation's major show Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Sunset, Sunrise. It was an iteration of a 2018 retrospective of the artist at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

"The long-term installation of Khayyam Fountain commemorates Farmanfarmaian's significant and influential artistic practice and reflects the foundation's commitment to providing a platform for artists from the Menasa region," she said.

The foundation's senior curator and director of collections, Omar Kholeif, said: "Khayyam Fountain is an installation that captures the imagination with its complexity, specifically its ethereal interplay with light, and was one of Farmanfarmaian's most ambitious artworks.

"In Sharjah, it is given a new lease of life. Surrounded by windows, beams of light activate the artwork's myriad glass formations, its tessellating forms change with the day, revealing Farmanfarmaian's passion of turning glass into an active and animate material – a form of cinema.”

The work is on view at Al Hamriyah Studios, an off-site location for the foundation that sits close to Ajman. Entry is free.

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