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Italian photographer Matteo Lonardi headed to Tehran to learn about the country away from the news headlines and through its artists

The studio of Bita Fayyazi, 53, is set in smoggy south Tehran, far from the affluence of the capital in the northern reaches. Her art is complex and theatrical, achieved by working with a range of material and people. From those interactions she draws her inspiration. For a recent project, she had a group of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds decorate the interior of a house. Photograph: Matteo Lonardi

 

In secondary school in Italy I was taught art as a form of understanding our predecessors. Teachers compared the harmonious proportions of classical Greek statues to the social equilibrium achieved in Athens in the fourth century BC, and linked Picasso’s Guernica to the horrors of the Spanish civil war.

Azra Aghighi, 49, was born in Qom and fell in love with the forms of her written language early on. She studied a traditional form of calligraphy at university and devoted herself full-time to her art once her children had grown. She finds working long hours at her canvasses therapeutic. While religion is a big inspiration, she says it’s not at the heart of her practice. She believes that the forms of her letters go beyond the meaning of the words.
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 Azra Aghighi, 49, was born in Qom and fell in love with the forms of her written language early on. She studied a traditional form of calligraphy at university and devoted herself full-time to her art once her children had grown. She finds working long hours at her canvasses therapeutic. While religion is a big inspiration, she says it’s not at the heart of her practice. She believes that the forms of her letters go beyond the meaning of the words. Photograph: Matteo Lonardi

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