CIA presents recent work by Nicky Nodjoumi, Dinner by Design – Art of the Table, and a runway show.

The abuse of power is a universal theme and one captured with poignancy, irony, and humor by Iranian-born artist Nicky Nodjoumi, whose work will be on view in the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Reinberger Galleries from March 28 through May 3. The Accident: Recent Work by Nicky Nodjoumi will introduce Cleveland art lovers to this internationally acclaimed New York-based artist with eight large-scale paintings and ink-on-paper drawings, and two public presentations by the artist.


During that same time frame, CIA will feature Dinner By Design – Art of the Table, an exhibition highlighting new and innovative work by accomplished artists and designers working in glass, clay, metals and other materials. Featured will be flatware, vessels, dinnerware and other works designed and created by CIA students.


Chasing the Butterfly, by Nicky Nodjoumi

Chasing the Butterfly, by Nicky Nodjoumi

And on April 22 at 7:30 pm, students will strut their stuff – in the form of accessories, design, and conceptual art – when CIA’s annual runway show flows through the lobby and gallery.


Nodjoumi’s “Stream of visual consciousness”

New York Times art critic Holland Cotter recently wrote of Nodjoumi’s work, “Visually the work is light, even airy, and filled with absurdist, mocking incident.” But Reinberger Galleries Director Bruce Checefsky points out, “This ‘mocking incident’ –in Nicky’s use of political symbolism, and caricatures of people in power–plays with ideas of ambiguity in the arts and discusses his personal history with the politics of alienation and dislocation.” 


Nodjoumi’s dislocation began in his 20s. Born in Kermanshah near the Iraq border in 1942, he first came to New York in 1969 and enrolled in the New School to learn English. He joined student organizations demonstrating for political freedom in Iran, and against U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. In 1972 he enrolled in the MFA program at the City College of New York. After graduate school he returned to Iran, where a 1980 retrospective of his work proved to be too much for the Iranian regime. He abruptly left his native country – and all his paintings –returning to New York, where he has lived ever since.


A regular visitor to New York museums and galleries, Checefsky has been aware of Nodjoumi for some time. He was particularly impressed with the artist’s solo show in the new Taymour Grahne gallery in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood last fall. “There is an overwhelming political force of his art that immediately attracted me to his work. Politics, history, power, and corruption; fornicating chimps, tied up puppets, and paint dripping with echoes of warrior crusades referencing the history of the Sasanian dynasty. As Nicky himself has pointed out, there is narrative in his paintings, but commentary is political.”


While referencing ancient and recent history in Iran, Nodjoumi’s works have a wide appeal. “There are not only Iranians or Americans in the paintings, but each situation, each event is universal,” said Checefsky. “Nicky’s work is easily accessible. He presents a global perspective. Abuse of power and corruption are not limited to either Iran or the United States. His paintings are cross-cultural and open-ended.”


The One Who Sees What Is Hidden

The One Who Sees What Is Hidden

Columbia University Professor Hamid Dabashi wrote of the artist,”Nodjoumi’s surreal hybridization of historical and phantasmagorical imageries intercut with sharp political commentaries … He is a storyteller with a solid command over his stream of visual consciousness. He draws and paints people and then formally and ceremoniously cuts them into pieces, shapes and designs. He loves to pile people and animals and body organs on top of each other irreverently and provocatively.”


Nodjoumi’s work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Museum in London, the Salsali Private Museum in Dubai, and the National Museum of Cuba.


In his own words: Opening day events

On Friday, March 28, Nodjoumi will present a public lecture at 12:15 pm as part of CIA’s Lunch On Fridays (LOF) series. At 5:00 p.m., Checefsky will interview Nodjoumi before a live audience. Following that, a public reception will take place from 6-8 pm in the Reinberger Galleries. All of these events take place in CIA’s Gund Building at 11141 East Boulevard, Cleveland. Free parking will be available in the lot behind the building.


Craft disciplines showcased in tableware, runway shows

Dinner By Design – Art of the Table will be on view in the eastern Reinberger gallery while Nodjoumi’s work is on view in the western Reinberger gallery. CIA Professor Matthew Hollern said the design work will not be typical table settings.


The table is probably the most interesting project for us when we talk about our material culture. It provides a beautiful opportunity for students to explore a wide range of objects and materials and concepts associated with our daily rituals,” Hollern said. “We press the idea that objects are catalysts for experiences.”


When last presented in 2009, Dinner by Design delighted gallery visitors who were charmed by students’ fresh ideas about everyday objects.


The runway show has become a perennial crowd pleaser at CIA, highlighting some of the most innovative works of art and design created by students from several different majors. The runway show is orchestrated by the students in the Fashion Jewelry Accessories course, which is focused on new and novel materials and technologies, including digital design and 3D printing.



Nicky Nodjoumi: March 28 – May 3

Reinberger Gallery West


Lunch on Friday with Nicky Nodjoumi: 12:15 pm Friday, March 28

Bruce Checefsky interviews Nicky Nodjoumi: 5:00 pm March 28

Opening Reception 6-8 pm March 28


Dinner by Design – Art of the Table: March 28 – May 3

Reinberger Gallery East

Runway Show: 7:30 pm April 22 in the lobby and gallery



Cleveland Institute of Art

Gund Building

1141 East Boulevard

Cleveland, Ohio 44106


Free parking behind the building.

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