Reza Derakhshani

Reza Derakshani is a multi-talented painter, poet, musician and performance artist.

He is known both in the Middle East and in the West as one of the most significant contemporary Iranian artists. His work features in many public art collections including The British Museum, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art; The Russian Museum in St Petersburg, and the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Germany.

Early Years & Childhood

Born in 1952 in Sangsar, a village in northeast of Iran, he grew up in a black tent on top of a mountain. He was surrounded by horses and fields of blue and yellow wild flowers. As he grew up in a nomadic family, he was enveloped in folklore and the natural world from a young age.


Reza graduated from the University of Tehran in 1976. He continued his studies at the Pasadena School of Art in California, and returned to Iran to teach at the University of Tehran and the School of Decorative Arts. He left Iran in 1983 following the Islamic Revolution and finally found home in the city of New York in 1985.

He eventually returned to Tehran for seven years before leaving his homeland once again in 2010.
Reza currently lives and works between Austin USA and St Petersburg Russia.

Reza Derakhshani’s ‘Hunt The Blue Night’


Reza became engrossed in Abstract Expressionism while living in New York and was soon associated with the revival of painting in the USA and Europe in the 1980s through the Neo-Expressionist style. After experimenting with pure abstraction, Reza devised his personal artistic style blending abstract and figurative elements from both Western and Eastern cultures, thereby creating an idiosyncratic oeuvre at the confluence of civilisations. 

Inserting subjectivity through expressive brushstrokes, while gracefully interweaving strong colours, textures, and luxurious metal paints, Reza’s paintings often mimic poetry and music. For him, painting is a spiritual process that allows for a return to physicality and beauty, in a rejection of the irony that often permeates contemporary painting. 

‘The idea is to create something that takes you out of that two-dimensional surface. It’s amazing when it happens — it’s the highest level of joy and satisfaction.’ 

In his paintings, Reza recalls forgotten tales and symbols of Iran’s cultural heritage, at a time where traditions and practices are under threat and often outlawed. Through a rich iconography drawing from medieval Persian poetry, classical literature, miniature painting, and sacred architectural sites laden with meaning, Reza’s work celebrates both ornamentation and colour fields, as the artist finds a space for figural representation in abstract aesthetics. 

Reza Derakhshani’s ‘Gold Hunt’