Famed Iranian Artist Under #MeToo Cloud Faces Art World Repercussions

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Representatives of Mr. Aghdashloo and his daughter did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

Mr. Aghdashloo’s supporters, including some of his former students, have taken to social media to reject the allegations and recount positive memories of their experience in his workshops. On Wednesday, his 80th birthday, they shared photographs of previous parties with Mr. Aghdashloo surrounded by female students and a birthday cake.

“I learned great lessons in life and art from you, happy birthday dear teacher,” Sanaz Barzegar, an artist, wrote on her Instagram page with a photo of Mr. Aghdashloo.

In Canada, a petition started by a handful of women in August has now garnered more than 800 signatures calling for the hugely popular biannual Iranian-Canadian Tirgan cultural festival, which drew 160,000 people last year, to announce publicly that it will no longer invite Mr. Aghdashloo.

The festival’s chief executive and board have remained noncommittal about the accusations.

“Our board decided this has nothing to do with Tirgan,” said the chief executive, Mehrdad Ariannejad. “We invite as many artists as we can to our gatherings and performances. Are they going to ask all the organizations, all the museums around the world, all the people that have been in contact with Mr. Aghdashloo to come out and take a position?”

In 2017, an interview with Mr. Aghdashloo at the festival was posted to the Tirgan YouTube channel.

“I personally, definitely, condemn any violence against women. I’ve always supported women’s rights,” said Mr. Ariannejad, adding that he believed the accounts should be investigated by an independent judicial body before any conclusions are drawn. “You can’t go out and condemn this person,” he said.

Mr. Ariannejad also co-owns an art gallery with one of Mr. Aghdashloo’s former wives, Fay Athari, in the trendy Distillery District of Toronto. The Arta Gallery is known as the cultural heart of the city’s small Iranian community, hosting book launches, art shows and lectures.

In August, just as public accusations against Mr. Aghdashloo were coming out on Iranian social media, the gallery highlighted Aghdashloo works and publicized art workshops with him over three days, stating, “Are you ready for a workshop with a legend?”





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