Behnam Bakhtiar Award set up to promote Iranian art

Artists of Iranian descent eligible for biennial prize of €10,000 and solo exhibition in Monaco gallery


A new prize aimed at artists of Iranian descent has been launched in Monaco. The biennial Behnam Bakhtiar Award hopes to promote Iranian art internationally and to counteract “the image of a culture and country that is too often misunderstood and criticised”, says Sassan Behnam Bakhtiar, the Monaco-based Iranian artist who founded the prize.

The first edition of the award, titled Future Iran, invites artists to “portray their vision, hopes and dreams” for the country. “I believe that every change starts with a vision—exploring ideas, inviting possibilities, thus planting seeds for a better future,” Behnam Bakhtiar says.

The award is one of the only international prizes to focus specifically on Iran and has few selection criteria. The open call is aimed at artists over 18 years old, working in any media, anywhere in the world. The winner will receive €10,000, a solo exhibition at Galerie Behnam Bakhtiar in the Monte-Carlo district of Monaco, and a book publication, as well as having two works selected to enter the Fondation Behnam Bakhtiar collection. “Being an Iranian artist myself, I understand very well what needs to be put in place in order for our artists to thrive and succeed in more effective ways today,” Behnam Bakhtiar says.

The deadline for submissions is 24 August, after which eight artists will be shortlisted in October, and the winners announced the following month. The judging panel includes the writers Joobin Bekhrad and Anna Wallace Thompson, the curators Nina Moaddel, Alistair Hicks and Janet Rady, the art historian Bibi Naz Zavieh and The Art Newspaper correspondent Tim Cornwell. “I am delighted to be working with a prize panel and collector so clearly committed to the promotion of Iranian art and culture,” Cornwell says.