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Nadalian: River Art

An interview by John K. GRANDE

Nadalian is an Iranian sculptor whose life's work involves engendering respect for living creatures and the natural environment. To achieve this, besides living with nature himself, he established sculpture grounds in a peaceful environment in natural surroundings. Water is a living element that contributes to his sculptures, and many of the symbols he engraves and sculpts are derived from ancient mythology and the rituals of pre-Islamic civilizations. more


Nadalian in Green Museum

By carving simple fish shapes and other forms onto small stones and river rocks, artist Ahmad Nadalian seeks to repopulate the spirit of neglected streams and rivers in his native Iran and around the world and share these treasures with future generations.  more


Utne Magazine May-June 2006  USA

Ahmad Nadalian

A human who loves stones and water, Ahmad Nadalian moves like a fish transgressing international borders.   More


About Ahmad Nadalian

By Professor  Robert C. Morgan

"I was so impressed with your concept, working at low tide in the early mornings to carve signs that during the day would be concealed.  It calls into question so much about time, history, language, meaning, and sculpture." More


About Ahmad Nadalian

By : Edward Lucie-Smith

In Iran, Ahmad Nadalian (b.1963) is in the process of creating an immense River Art installation along the banks and amidst the waters of the Haraz River, near Mount DamavendMore


Art Tomorrow


Works by Nadalian in USA


Hidden Treasures

Works in Other Countries


Works by Nadalian in Bangladesh


Works by Nadalian in Uzbekistan


Collaboration with Children


Works in Paris


Works In Arangeh


L'Eau Partagee: Work in South of France )


Hidden Treasures: An Art Exhibition for next Millenniums  Persian


L'Eau Partagee: Work in South of France )

Artists at Paradise International Center


Travel to France : Exhibition & Works by Nadalian in Ramatuelle- Golfe de Saint Tropez in France  (From Escalet to Pampelonne)


Works In Italy


Works In Germany


The International Center for Creation and exhibition of  Art in Nature




Thirsty Fish :   Works in Spain              فارسي

Water water everywhere

and the boards did shrink;

water water everywhere,

and not a drop to drink...

Samuel Taylor  Coleridge "The rhyme of the ancient mariner"


Nature of Mallorca & Maps of Works

Carved Rocks: Fish      Others: Star, Hand & Feet    Purification: Environmental Installation 

Reflection in Press

What is their sin?        

Performance & Installation  by A. Nadalian at Can Marques






Nadalian,  Eva Shakouri & Nieves Barber

Thanks to: the team at the Ajuntament de Calvià (Mallorca),  Iran Heritage Foundation,  Eva, Amir and Alia Shakouri,  Pide la Luna,  Antonio Camba,  Barbara Rubio,  Catherine Macdonald, Nieves Barber, Mr and Mrs. Pirouz,  and Mr and Mrs Shakouri.

On the 11th of March 2004, Ahmad Nadalian was traveling from Tehran to Mallorca, via Madrid. He landed in the capital city only a few hours after the terrorist attacks at Atocha train station, and found himself face to face with the stony silence with which individuals stood in front of their offices, shops, restaurants, and homes, expressing their anger at the slaughter of innocent lives.

“Years ago, I began to work in nature, escaping the sound of bombs and destruction in my country… I traveled throughout the world to spread my message of respect towards our rivers, the sea, the trees, the fish… But everywhere, in every country, I find myself face to face with the tragedy of innocent victims. What is their sin? What have we done to deserve this?

Through this action, the artist invites us to reflect upon the nature of terrorism, the value of life, and the global, race-less character of this type of tragedy.

On the 19th of March 2004, Nadalian's exhibition opened in the Galeria Portals of Mallorca in Spain. Besides this exhibition he also performed some other artistic works across the island.  On Sunday the 21st of March (Iranian New Year)  he presented his Haftseen Web Installation.

His works in Mallorca include carvings on the rocks and stones you can find all over the island.  These show designs of fish, traces of footsteps, hand prints, crabs, snakes, and spirals, …distributed all along the sea coast.  The designs of these carvings are similar to those which he carved on the rocks of Iran, Finland, Lebanon, Italy, and Germany. However the new environment and context provided new conditions and reveal new meaning.

The direction of most fish which were carved on Mallorca Island show them swimming targeted toward the sea or a hollow where water has gathered from the rains or the ebb and flow of the sea.

This island is surrounded by water, but the fish are thirsty.  To Nadalian fish are a symbol representing human beings and water is a metaphor for fertility, purification and knowledge.

This message is more obvious in one of Nadalian's environmental installations. In this work we can see the foot traces of man walking on different large flat stones, arranged in a row ending near a cypress tree.  In the middle of this installation there is a hollow full of water.

The Iranian community sponsored the materials and supported Nadalian to create this work.

Ahmad Nadalian, in representing the Persian community resident on the island, expressed his gratitude to the Ajuntament de Calvià, Mallorca, and the residents of Calvià, for the fundraising initiatives performed in support of the victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran.

During this event, the artist presented a environmental installation as a gift to the mayor and to the residents of the municipality. The sculpture has now became part of the Town Hall's collection of contemporary art, and is placed permanently in a prominent position within the building.

The dedication ceremony officially took place on the 28th of March 2004 at the Ajuntament de Calvià in Mallorca. At this meeting, the mayor of Calvia, presented a cheque for fifty thousand euros to the president of International Red Cross.  Afterward Nadalian explained the meaning of his works and on behalf of all Iranians who live in Iran or abroad thanked the people of Calvia for their gift.

He said that today, the 28th of March, is a blessed day. In many world religions there is a belief that God created the world in six days and rested in the seventh day.  According to the Iranian calendar today is this blessed day.  It is also a Friday, which is an special day for all Moslems.

In this turbulent world, I have tried to choose an issue which has a common interest. Water is a sacred element and has a special place in all important world religions.  In ancient times people worshiped water as a goddess of fertility. In Iran, the goddess was known as Anahita.

In many world religions the believers purify their physical body with water before entering into a sacred place, ritual washing is the first step of prayer. 

In many mystical cults, water is used as a metaphor for purification of the spirit. In order to have a good spirit we must  wash our heart.

Finally Nadalian said that  people  must be spiritually pure. The people of Mallorca are surrounded by water so they should have a clean spirit.


The fundamental concern of this artist is the search for harmony with nature, with ourselves, and the universe which surrounds us.

Nadalian's work draws on a wide range of symbols, from those belonging to ancient Persian mythology and the rituals of pre-Islamic civilisations to those that belong to the contemporary languages that emerge from the use of new technologies.

His concepts are therefore expressed through a variety of media, including rock carvings, enviromental art installations, ritual art performances, figurative paintings reminiscent of ancient drawings, video art installations, web art works and interactive pieces which require the participation of the public.



This exhibition gathers a collection of pieces from various periods within the artist’s trajectory, under a central theme: Fertility. The female figure which is depicted in most of the pieces represents Anahita, the Goddess of fertility and water, according to the pre -Islamic faiths that existed in the Mesopotamian region.


The paintings represent symbolic characters from the cycle of creation, life and death; the duality between the instinct of creation and destruction; the vulnerability of life; the beauty of woman as mother in the context of creation.

The textiles belong to a period within the artist’s trajectory where he explored skills and techniques used by traditional craftsmen in ancient Persia. Among these techniques is painting with ink on textile, which was an art form practiced in Esfahan, the ancient capital of Persia.

The forms depicted by the artist are reminiscent of the clay figures and icons found in Iran, Iraq and India. These mud figures are representations of ancient deities discovered by archaeologists who investigate ancient Persia. The shapes are subtle, and suggestive, rather than replicas of the drawings created by his ancestors.


These are a selection of carved rocks which he has brought from Poloor, the village of his birth. For the artist, the natural forms of these rocks and stones are sculptures in their purest state. He collects them when the shapes he sees suggest a story, a symbol, or a message which he enhances through his carvings. The symbols which appear are fish, Goddesses, foetuses in midst of the creation process, and other creatures of nature. The rocks communicate what they have lived, and what has disappeared… they tell us how in the past, there were fish in the rivers of Poloor, that the nomads who travelled through these lands adored other deities, and that the natural environment is being destroyed by man…


Installation is a fundamental part of Nadalian’s work. The artist creates symbolic rivers and lakes within the spaces where he exhibits.


Nadalian spend stayed three weeks in Mallorca. During which he participated in various activities designed to double-click on the themes which he explores through his work.



Time: From 18:00 hours onwards

Location: The cafeteria at Galeria Portals



Time: From 18:00 hours to 21 hours

Location: The workshops at Galeria Portals

The influence of folkloric art in contemporary Persian art. Classes incorporating theory and practice, which was held at the workshops of Galeria Portals. Present among the passions of this artist, are techniques and symbolism used by tribes in Iran throughout the centuries. The course was given in English, with simultaneous translation into Spanish.



Location: Calvià Town Hall

Ahmad Nadalian, representing of the Persian community resident in the island,  expressed his gratitude to the Ajuntament de Calvià, Mallorca, and the residents of Calvià, for the fundraising initiatives performed in support of the victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran.

During this event, the artist presented an environmental installation as a gift to the mayor and to the residents of the municipality. This installation has now  become part of the Town Hall's collection of contemporary art, and is placed permanently in a prominent position within the building. The piece was created  by the artist when he lived in Mallorca.



Location: Exhibition Hall at Galeria Portals

Speaker: Ahmad Nadalian

A look through the panorama of web art, and the impact of new technologies in facilitating freedom of expression. The discourse was based on the content of a lecture given by the artist in Helsinki, and explored recent trends and developments. The session was given in English, with simultaneous translation into Spanish.




The team at the Ajuntament de Calvià (Mallorca)Iran Heritage Foundation, Pide la LunaAntonio CambaBarbara Rubio, Catherine macdonald, Nieves Barber, Mr and Mrs. Pirouz, Mr and Mrs Shakouri


Galeria Portals is an idealistic project, launched by three young entrepreneurs, fascinated by contemporary art in all its forms. Eva, Alia and Amir Shakouri.

The gallery strives to consolidate itself as a contemporary centre for culture which brings together artists, art lovers and all those who share a curiosity for new forms of expression and communication.


Antonio Camba (1961: San Sebastián, Spain)

Artist, gallerist, teacher, art critic and curator, Antonio Camba is one of the main collaborators within the Galeria Portals team.

Artist: Specialised in printing and stamping techniques, as an artist, he has moved on to working with digital photography and interactive art. To date, he has held over 80 individual exhibitions.

Gallerist: In 1997 he founded the contemporary art gallery named after him in Palma de Mallorca. It has since become one of the most important exhibition spaces in the contemporary arts circuit of the island.

In Galeria Portals, he collaborates with the directors in the development of projects and initiatives both within the exhibition space of the gallery itself, and in other spaces in Spain and abroad. He is also part of the panel of experts who selects the artists who exhibit in the centre, and conducts the multidisciplinary classes (organised by Calvià Town Hall) which take place at the workshops of Galeria Portals.

Nieves Barber

Nieves is the founder of C’an Marques, a typical Mallorquín stately home which has been restored and turned into a museum. C’an Marques hosts Nadalians’ first public appearance on his arrival to the island.

The space created by Nieves is an extraordinary place which blends all the charm and tradition of a house that belonged to the upper classes for about 700 years, and up until the XIX Century, with the vibrant and often provocative installations of some of the best contemporary artists which live on and visit the island.

The result is a magical environment where, the most current issues affecting our society are interweaved with the tradition and history which inhabit this unique building.

Barbara Rubio (1973: Madrid, Spain)

Having studied journalism and management, Barbara has worked as chief of cabin in various airline companies. In 2003 she was in charge of the department for marketing and communication in the school of art and design (EDAA). In 2004, she joined the team of Galeria Portals as a director for corporate and institutional relations.

Catherine MacDonald (1968: Lima, Peru)

Catherine is a freelance journalist and TV producer who has worked for some of the most important television networks in the world, including: CNN, BBC Worldwide and REUTERS TV. She will be visiting Mallorca from the 12th to the 22nd of March, in order to begin the first stages of a documentary about the contemporary art scene in Mallorca, with a special focus on Ahmad Nadalian’s exhibition and related activities.



ماهيهاي تشنه :   حجاري و نمايشگاه نادعليان در جزيره مايوركاي اسپانيا

ببه دنبال دعوت مسئولين  جي پي كه يك  گالري (گالري پورتالز) و مركز فرهنگي در جزيره مايوركاي اسپانيا است، براي انجام حجاري بر صخره هاي جزيره، برپائي نمايشگاهي از مجموعه آثارش در دوره هاي مختلف و سلسله سخنراني، نادعليان در  روز 21 اسفند سال 1382 عازم اسپانيا شد.  

در روز 21 اسفند 1382 احمد نادعليان از تهران به مادريد رفت. مقصد او جزيره مايوركا بود. اما چند ساعت قبل از ورودش انفجار يك بمب در ايستگاه قطار موجب كشته شدن حدود 200 تن شد. در چند روز اول ورودش فضاي شهر دگرگون بود. 

 روز نشست مطبوعاتي نمايشگاه او مصادف شد  با هفتمين روز افرادي كه در بمب گذاري كشته شدند و در اين روز به عنوان اعتراض افراد بسياري سكوت كرده بودند. 

او به منظور همدردي با مردم اسپانيا و محكوم كردن كشتن افراد بيگناه يك اجرا و چيدمان را ترتيب داد. اين اجرا و چيدمان در موزه كن ماركز ارائه شد. عكسهاي بسياري از تمامي افراد بيگناهي كه در گوشه و كنار جهان به دليل بمب گذاري آسيب ديده بودند جمع آوري شده بود و نادعليان با تركيب تصادفي آنها يك سطح بسيار بزرگ را به صورت كلاژ اجرا كرد و اين كلاژ در مدخل ورودي كن ماركز بر روي زمين قرار گرفت و روي همه تصاوير با تكه هاي گچ و آجر و خاك و ساير ضايعات كه پس از يك بمب گذاري باقي ميماند پوشانيده شد.  در زمان اجرا پس از سكوتي معني دار اين اثر هنري با صداي يك بمب آغاز شد. سپس همه جا تاريك شد و صداي ناله و فرياد به گوش مي رسيد.  نادعليان با چراغي كه در دست داشت افراد آسيب ديده را كه به صورت عكسهايي در زير آوار بودند خارج ميكرد. تعدادي از هنرمندان اسپانيايي در اين عمل مشاركت داشتند

در روز 29 اسفند  نمايشگاه  احمد نادعليان در گالري پورتال جزبره مايوركاي اسپانيا به صورت رسمي افتتاح شد. اين نمايشگاه شامل حجاري، كارهاي قلمكار، چيدمان ويدئويي، چيدمان با سنگ و آب و كارهاي مجازي در شبكه اينترنت بود.  فعاليتهاي نادعليان در جزيره خصوصا اجرا و چيدمان او در كن ماركز موضوع يك گزارش و فيلم مستند بود.  اين فيلم را خانم  كاترين مك دونالد فيلمسازي كه با بي بي سي و سي ان ان همكاري دارد تهيه كردند.

در كنار   اين نمايشگاه نادعليان مجموعه اي از آثارش را در جزيره اجرا كرد.  اين جزيره در وسط درياي مديترانه واقع شده است. عمده كارهاي نادعليان در جزيره مجموعه اي از آثار حجاري بر روي صخره هاي حاشيه ي دريا بود كه در طول چندين كيلومتر از سواحل دريا پراكنده هستند.   اغلب نقشهايي كه نادعليان بر صخره ها نقش زد همان طرحهايي بودند كه قبلا در نقاط مختلف ايران، فنلاند، لبنان، ايتاليا و آلمان بر روي سنگها و صخره هاي طبيعي حجاري كرده بود. اما بستر و محيط جديد شرايط جديدي براي طرحهاي او بوجود آورده و اين بستر جديد معاني جديدي را يادآور ميشد.

اغلب ماهيهايي كه او در جزيره مايوركا بر روي صخره ها حجاري كرد، جهت  هاي سر و سمت حركتشان به سوي آب دريا و يا چاله هاي سنگي پر از آب هستند.  آب اين چاله هاي سنگي، آب باران و يا آبي هست كه به هنگام جزر و مد در چاله ها باقي ميماند. اين ماهيها را آب محاصره كرده است ، اما آنان تشنه اند.   ماهي در اين آثار تمثيلي از انسان است كه تشنه و آب ميتواند تمثيلي باشد از پاكي ، زلالي، و معرفت. 


اين معنا با وضوح بيشتري و  آگاهانه در يك چيدمان محيطي نادعليان محسوس بود. اين اثر رد پاي انساني را نشان ميداد كه بر روي مجموعه اي از تخته سنگهاي بزرگ حجاري شدند. اين رد پاها كه به طرف آفتاب در ساعت ظهر حركت ميكنند در مسير خود از چاله آب عبور كرده و در پايان به درخت سروي ميرسيدند. او اين چيدمان را به سفارش ايرانيهاي مقيم جزيره به دليل كمكهاي انسان دوستانه مردم جزيره به آسيب ديدگان زلزله بم، در روز هفتم فروردين به مردم جزيره هديه كرد.

در اين مراسم كه به صورت رسمي در تالار اجتماعات شهرداري برگزار شد، نماينده صليب سرخ ، شهردار كالويا ، تني چند از مسئولين فرهنگي اسپانيا و افراد خير اسپانيائي و ايراني حضور داشتند.  شهردار شهر كالوياي مايوركا پس از سخراني يكي از مسئولين فرهنگي اسپانيا يك چك به مبلغ پنجاه ميليون يورو را كه كمكهاي جمع آوري شده مردم شهر كالويا بود را به نماينده صليب سرخ تحويل داد.  در پايان آقاي نادعليان ضمن تقديم چيدمان به عنوان هديه اي از طرف مرم ايران در ارتباط با انگيزه ايجاد اثر و مفهوم نهفته آن سخنراني كرد.

وي در ادامه سخنانش گفت در اين دنياي پر از جنجال و آشوب من سعي كردم به مفهومي اشاره كنم كه مورد توافق بسياري از فرهنگ ها و اديان است. آب در اديان باستان مترادف با الهه باروري بوده است و در بسيار از معابد مورد پرستش قرار ميگرفته است. ايرانيان باستان در معابد آناهيتا الهه آب و باروري را ستايش ميكردند.  در بسياري از اديان براي انجام مراسم آئيني و ديني آب براي شستشوي جسم به كار ميرود و كالبد جسمي انسان را تميز نگه ميدارد.  در شرق هندو ها در رودخانه گنگ خود را ميشويند. در خاور ميانه بسيار از مسلمانان براي انجام عبادت وضو ميگيرند و غسل كردن بخشي از آداب ديني محسوب ميشود.

در اروپا مسيحيان به هنگام ورود به كليسا با دست زدن به آب سنگابه ها مراسم آئيني انجام ميدهند و براي خوشامد گويي يك نوزاد به آئين مسيحي او را غسل ميدهند.

حتي براي آناني كه باور مذهبي ندارند مسئله آب و نقش آن در زندگي آن امر مهمي است.

در اساطير و عرفان فرهنگ هاي مختلف آب نمادي است براي باروري،  پاكي درون و شستشوي باطن و يا اينكه آب تمثيلي از معرفت است.

او در پايان خطاب به مردم جزيره گفت كه شما را آب محاصره كرده است و هر كس كه قصد سفر به اين جزيره را دارد بايد از آب عبور نمايد. اين عبور يا حصر به مفهوم باطني آن ميتواند تمثيلي از پاكي درون باشد و شما با اين قلب پاك اين را ثابت كرديد.

كارهاي نادعليان در گالري جي پي شامل يك چيدمان ويدئويي ، يك چيدمان با سنگها و آب ، حجاريها و طراحي هايي روي پارچه قلمكار خواهند بود.  در روز اول ، دوم و سوم فروردين چيدمان اينترنتي هفت سين در نگارخانه و شبكه اينترنت ارائه شد.    نادعليان در روز هفتم فروردين در ارتباط با هنر عاميانه ايران در اين مركز سخنراني  داشت. در روز هشتم فروردين آثار نادعليان در دوره هاي مختلف شامل طراحي، نقاشي، حجاري چيدمان، هنر رودخانه و هنر شبكه به همراه نمايش اسلايد مرور شد و در روز نهم فروردين نادعليان در ارتباط با هنر شبكه سخنراني كرد

تمامي اين فعاليتها با مساعدت و همكاري سازمانها و افراد زير صورت گرفته است.

با تشكر از:  افراد شهرداري كالويا،  بنياد ميراث ايران، پيد لا لونا، آنتونيو كامبو، باربارا روبيو، كاترين مك دونالد، نوس باربر، خانواده آقاي پيروز، يوا و امير عاليا شكوري, پدر و مادرشان (مايكا) 

طبيعت و موقعيت حجاري ها در جزيره

  ماهي ها    ديگر نقشها    چيدمان محيطي

   اجرا و چيدمان به بهانه بمب 11 مارس مادريد

اين نمايشگاه تا روز دوم خرداد سال 1383 ادامه خواهد داشت.