Was ‘pop art’ a term used by yourself or colleagues or was there a different terminology that referred to a new figurative art movement in the 1960s and early 1970s?
In the 1960s and the 1970s the term ‘pop art’ universally referred to a specific figurative art movement. I used the term too.
Did you ever consider yourself (now or in the past) a pop artist?
I did not, but others did. In November 1965 Karim Emami wrote an article entitled ‘Tanavoli Turns Popper’ (see Kayhan International, Tehran, 8 November 1965).
Did your work engage with current events in the 1960s and early 1970s?
Not directly, but indirectly it did.
How did you choose the subject matter for your works included in The World Goes Pop?
Generally speaking, my main subject matter in the works in The World Goes Pop are lovers: perhaps the most favourite theme for Persians. Although The Poet and the Beloved King (Lovers) 1966 was made eight years before the screenprints, they all share the same stories. The imagery of the lovers mostly appears in Persian miniatures. I deliberately wanted to shake up the Iranians and get them out of their millennia-old shells. In order to do so, I picked up ordinary material and commercial paint to break down the soft lines of the Persian miniatures and those pretty faces. My lovers in new mediums with geometric lines are completely the opposite of the Persian refined taste.
Where did you get your imagery from (what, if any, sources did you use)?
From nowhere. I followed the anatomy of my sculptures, an anatomy invented by myself based upon a multitude of inspirations from the bazaar.
Were you aware of pop art in other parts of the world?
Yes, I was.
Was commercial art an influence on your work or the way in which it was made?
The commercial work of the Iranian bazaars, yes (i.e. neon lights, banners, signs and all their kitsch mixtures/blends).
Was there a feeling at the time that you were doing something important and new, making a change…?
All I knew was that I was going in the wrong direction and I had chosen the wrong path, but I enjoyed it.
Was there an audience for the work at the time – and if so what was their reaction to it?
In the 1960s, practically no audience, but in the 1970s it began to grow.
Looking back at these works, what you do think about them now?
Despite the tough days of the 1960s, I miss it.