Masoud Babakhani was born in 1970 in Shiraz, Iran. From a young age I visited my grandfather in the school holidays in a small village and grew up watching him painting nature. The village was surrounding by the natural environment where people lived sustainably in harmony with the environment this influenced me to study art.
My parents noticed my interest and talent for art and encouraged me to further my education by send me to private art studio where I studied by who taught me some techniques in painting and drawing.
From there I furthered my knowledge and techniques at University where I studied where I learned art history, the meaning of art and more complex techniques.
When I was 22 I went to Turkey to explore my Turkish background and learn more about the culture and the people,where I meet people with the same interests studying at Marmara University and we undertook many projects together where we exchanged different ideas.
In Turkey I found we shared similar motifs on handmade Klim and other handmade artefacts. It was from this, that the idea to work with motifs and Klim became a project called Sofre that I worked on in 1994 and exhibited in Istanbul.
Sofre is a hand-made woollen Klim that the Ghashghaie’s used sit on to make nan bread, which is woven with an individual pattern. I used the Klim motifs and combine them on the sofre to show the meaning of the motifs.
A sofreh is a special type of kilim woven by the women of Iran’s nomadic Qashqai people until the end of the 20th century. It’s part of my DNA.
It wasn’t meant to adorn the floors or walls of a family home. A sofreh served a utilitarian purpose. Qashqai women made their special naan bread while sitting on it. To maintain the sofreh’s cleanliness, they wove a special sign to separate the places where they worked the dough from where they sat.
Even after my nomadic paternal grandfather began a sedentary life, my grandmother continued to weave them. I slept on them as a child when I visited their village near my home in Shiraz. I still remember their smell.
After a formal art education in Iran and Turkey, I made a disturbing discovery in the early 1990s. Sofrehs were being cut up to make women’s handbags and shoes. Their only value was seen as scrap material. I decided to save this unique cultural treasure. With the help of my father, a carpet dealer in Shiraz’s pazar, I started to collect and paint on them. They take acrylic paint very well! By transforming them into contemporary art, I want to add to their intrinsic value. (Each sofreh is more than 50 years old.)
I started painting my ‘egg series’ in 2015. The egg is a symbol of rebirth. People decorate them during both the Christian Easter and Persian Nowruz (New Year) holidays.
For me, the egg represents the oneness of humanity.
1994 Istanbul Turkey
1999 Istanbul Turkey
2003 RBSA Birmingham England
2004 Birmingham England
2008 London England
2013 Iran Shiraz
2017 Iran Tehran
2021 Iran Tehran
2022 Iran Tehran