In The Press

The Resistance of Pen and Paper | Arab News
Iranian-born, London-based artist Bita Ghezelayagh spoke to Jonathan Gornall for Arab News, on the occasion of the recently opened group exhibition, The Resistance of Pen and Paper at Richard Saltoun Gallery London.
The exhibition also features works by Fathi Hassan, Shirin Neshat, Huda LutfiMaliheh Afnan, BRACHA L. Ettinger and Nasrollah Afjei


Ghezelayagh’s new work is front and center in the exhibition. In addition to an installation of silkscreen-printed calligraphic works — each bearing the stylized image of a pen nib, on embroidered, hand-woven textiles — hundreds of the nibs she transported from obscurity and redundancy in Tehran have found a new, symbolic lease of life, encased in tiles of colored glass and strung on threads by the dozen. 


Not all the nibs in her project — “Encapsulation” — are completely encased; some protrude beyond the confines of the glass. The symbolism is self-explanatory. 

“I talk a lot a lot about censorship and freedom,” says Ghezelayagh. 


Born in Florence, Italy, in 1966 to Iranian parents, Ghezelayagh moved to Tehran when she was two years old and frequently travels back to the country from her home in the UK.  
Iranian artist Bita Ghezelayagh was browsing in an antique shop in Tehran, searching for old textiles to rescue and upcycle into art, when she stumbled upon a different kind of inspiration. 
“I saw all these boxes of pen nibs, hundreds of them,” she tells Arab News. “They were so beautiful, and the dealer was just begging me to buy them: ‘Please, you are an artist, do something with them. They are magnificent, and you won't see this anymore.’” 
For Ghezelayagh, who has built a career on finding the beauty and potential in the disappearing crafts of her country, it was a challenge she couldn’t resist. 

The Resistance of Pen and Paper will be on view through 4 November 2023. 
To read the full piece, please visit Arab News website.
October 6, 2023