Jazeh Tabatabai (1931 – February 9, 2008) was an Iranian avant-garde painter, poet, and sculptor.
Tabatabai received over 10 major international awards for his paintings and sculptures. He was the founder and director of the Iran Modern Art Gallery in Tehran, Iran.
Tabatabai’s present fame is mostly due to his creative figures and metal sculptures which he assembled with parts from old machinery and cars. His style is close to the Saghaneh School; milk-women and suns are repeating themes in his work. For this reason, he is cited alongside a handful of other influential Iranian artists as a pioneer of the Saghaneh School, which took form in the 80s.
Tabatabai wrote his first story, titled “Sand and Straw”, at the age of 12 and subsequently entered other artistic fields. He went on to write and direct such plays as “Withering Blossoms”, “Lord Chichi Yanf”, “Footstep”, and “Mister Muchul”, and produced another of his own plays called “Scout Association”. In 1947 he published “The Little Boy”, a story.
In 1951 Tabatabai earned a diploma from the School of Arts and displayed his art, which was then miniatures at his first art exhibition. Four years later he achieved the position of top student in the Film Direction and Principles of Theatre program at the Iranian College of Literature and produced the play “Sailor’s Shirt”.
In 1961, he completed his painting courses at the College of Fine Arts and established the Modern Iran Art Gallery, the first art gallery in Iran.
Tabatabai’s works can be found in major collections and in many museums around the globe including the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Additionally, his works have been displayed in exhibitions in England, India, Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece, Australia, France and the United States.
In 1967 Khosrow Sinai directed a film about Tabatabai’s work called “Biography”. In 1997 another film on the artist’s life called “Autumn Road” was produced.
In his later years Tabatabai lived in Spain, spending some time each year in Iran. He died on February 9, 2008 at Tehran’s Atieh Hospital.