In conjunction with Space Gallery, the Wall House Museum in Gustavia presents a photography exhibit by Iran Issa-Khan, “Forces Of Nature,” through February 10, 2022. Le Journal de Saint Barth talked with the artist, who has continually been seeking beauty for the past 40 years.
Iran Issa-Khan Luscious, 2020, Limited edition color c-print photograph (Edition of 12) (60 x 48 in / 152.40 x 121.92 cm)
While she has not yet arrived in Saint Barthélemy this season, Iran Issa-Khan does not hide her impatience to get back to an island that she “adores,” and loves to explore on every one of her visits. At the moment, she is in Miami, Florida, where her studio is located. “I hope to be able to come in February when things are calmer,” she explains. In the meantime, some of her images are already on display in Saint Barth. As it happens, on the walls of the Wall House Museum, which in partnership with Space Gallery, has organized a major show of IssaKhan’s work, “Forces Of Nature,” meant to “pay tribute to the intrinsic beauty of the natural world.”
Contacted by telephone, the photographer explains with passion and enthusiasm the reasons that inspire her to continue her exploration of nature and its wonders.
“Awaken people to beauty.”
“My objective has always been to seek the best that nature can offer us,” explains Issa-Khan. “Nature gives us the best there is in the world, which has been true for millions of years. It took me a while to become aware of that. I think the same is true for everyone, to understand all the beauty that surrounds us, to appreciate it, and to take care of it. That is also our role as artists, to display nature, and awaken people to its beauty. I hope this exhibit in Saint Barth, representing my work over the past 20 years, succeeds in doing that.”
For close to 20 years, Iran IssaKhan was among the top fashion photographers. Her images were often on the covers of leading fashion magazines the world over. Then, in 1999, after the death of one of her mentors, she decided to change direction. But isn’t morphing from the world of fashion to that of nature in full bloom, after all. still seeking beauty, in all of its forms? “Exactly,” confirms the artist.
“For me beauty is the most important thing as it is found everywhere. It can be exterior, interior, in people’s homes, as in nature. Beauty is exceptional, no matter what form it takes. I look for it everywhere, all the time, in everything around me.”
“Decide which side of life one wants to observe”
Of her childhood spent in Iran, the photographer confirms she “has it all in her memories.” Is the seeking of beauty, what finally drove her to observe and capture nature, the result of her early years in Teheran? “Of course, that’s evident,” she quips.
“There is nothing more significant than the country where you were born and raised. And there is so much beauty in Iran. In the architecture, in nature, and the people. And one must decide which side of life one wants to observe, to research, and to live.”
But in 1979, her family fled Iran before the fall of the Shah, and the takeover of power by The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
After a privileged childhood with a lot of travel and encounters, the young woman moved to the United States. “I had to work there as everything we had was taken away in Iran,” Issa-Khan recalls.
“I studied photography for a year and I met various people. I wanted to work but I had to prove myself. So, for a year I took photos of the celebrities I knew. When I returned, I showed my photos and they said ‘ok you can work!’ And that’s how it all started…”
In Miami, since 1999, Iran IssaKhan loves the nature that surrounds her there. She tries to squeeze out every last ounce of beauty. In the hope it will be preserved.
“My only hope it that the younger generation gets more involved and does what has to be done to save our environment,” states the artist. “Nature is what will save us in the future. All the things that are happening in the world today are the consequences of the way we mistreat nature. We are involved in so many futile things in life. It is time to take care of the important things.”