The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians—The Mohammed Afkhami Collection

Saturday, Jul. 1, 2017 – Sunday, Sep. 24, 2017


Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians illuminates the multifaceted histories and identities of Iranians today. Through works of art by Iranian-born artists across three generations, the exhibition sheds light on the rich heritage—as well as the trials and triumphs—of the Iranian people during a period of social and political unrest.

Drawing from the collection of financier and philanthropist Mohammed Afkhami, Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet highlights the unique evolution of contemporary art both in Iran and by Iranian artists who have left their native country. Paintings, sculptures, photographs, and videos by 23 artists express four interwoven themes that transcend standard chronologies.

The mystic current—perhaps the most familiar aspect of contemporary Iranian art—is introduced by two calligraphic works: Mohammad Ehsai’s painting Mohabbat (Kindness) and Parviz Tanavoli’s sculpture Blue Heech (Blue Nothingness). Opposing currents of satire and rebellion are encapsulated in Shirin Aliabadi’s Miss Hybrid 3, a staged photograph exploring the global self-consciousness that characterizes the generation of Iranians who came of age in the Internet era.

Ali Banisadr’s epic We Haven’t Landed on Earth Yet expresses the terror and chaos of war through painterly abstraction, and Farhad Moshiri’s Flying Carpet displays silhouettes of fighter planes cut into traditional carpets, reflecting on the threat of global conflict. Ultimately, an elegiac mood is established through the poetic vistas photographed by Shirin Neshat and Abbas Kiarostami.

Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet also features established artists such as Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian and Shirazeh Houshiary, as well as emerging talents. The Houston presentation—the exhibition’s U.S. premiere—introduces the work of contemporary artists from Iran into fresh dialogues with new audiences and the wide-ranging MFAH collections.

Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue, available through the MFA Shop (713.639.7360) and the Museum’s Hirsch Library (713.639.7325).


  • Tuesday - Wednesday, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Thursday, 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
    Friday - Saturday, 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
    Sunday, 12:15 pm - 7:00 pm
    Monday: Closed (Except Monday Holidays). Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
  • General Admission: MFAH Members-FREE Adult-$15 ($14 Online); Senior (65+) $10 ($9 Online); Youth (13-18) $7.50 ($6.50 Online); Child (12 & younger) FREE; Military (ID Required) $10; Student (ID Required) $7.50 Ticketed exhibitions require an additional admission charge. Free Hours: FREE THURSDAY 10 am - 9 pm

Directions & Parking

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  • Make visiting a snap! Enlarge the map to see main-campus parking options, or download the PDF

    Parking update: A new underground parking garage, located on Montrose Boulevard, is now open!

    • The outdoor parking lot on Bissonnet, across from the Law Building, is closed permanently.
    • Parking is available in two garages: an above-ground garage at 1144 Binz Street, and a new underground garage at 5101 Montrose Blvd.
    • Guests with limited mobility: We recommend that you use the covered drop-off lane at the Main Street entrance to the Beck Building, or use wheelchair-accessible parking in the garage at 1144 Binz Street.

    Parking Garage Locations

    • 1144 Binz Street
    • 5101 Montrose Boulevard

    Parking Fees*

    Parking payments may be made only with a major credit card. Also accepted: MasterCard and Visa debit cards.
    MFAH Members Visitors
    0–30 minutes FREE FREE
    31 minutes–4 hours $6 $10
    4–12 hours $10 $18
    12–24 hours $35 $35
    *Parking is free for MFAH visitors who enter the Museum between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursdays. General admission to the Museum is free on Thursdays, courtesy of Shell.


    Both parking garages are open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Special Offers / Dining

Paolo Fronza, from Fellini Caffè, runs this sophisticated dining operation. Enjoy an array of Italian-inspired fare with a Texas flair, a European-style coffee bar, a kids menu, and much more at the MFA Café, located on the lower level of the Beck Building.

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