Meet Iranian-Canadian Art Curator Vida Heydari Who Found Her Niche In Pune

Sep 30, 2021, 21:23 IST

Vida Heydari

“The ability to express myself and my vision without holding back is the absolute form of freedom”–  Vida Heydari

In December last year, one of Pune’s biggest art spaces was launched in Koregaon Park – Vida Heydari Contemporary (VHC). It is a gigantic space sprawling across 3,000 square feet and looks like something of high international standard. Vida Heydari, the founder of this gallery is an Iranian-Canadian art curator and gallerist, who has been working in the art industry for almost 15 years.

Vida Heydari

On Her Love for Art…
Heydari has spent most of her life working with and around art, and this is something that was close to her since her childhood owing to her family and their love for creativity. “I was born into a creative family and was always assisting my mom in her artistic projects since a very young age. Her influence and attention to art had me signed up in adult painting classes as a child and was oil painting at five years old,” Heydari informs on how she got into art at a very young age. “This had a life long impact on me and inspired me to want to be as involved as possible and surround myself by art and artists.”

Vida Heydari
Image: Instagram

On Moving to Pune…

Originally living in Iran, Heydari moved to Pune almost four years ago after being inspired by a book given to her by a friend. Talking about how it exactly happened, she says, “I was gifted a book by a dear friend who strongly thought that I would find it inspiring, which I didn’t at the time since it was a translated book to Farsi, and I found it a bit on the heavy side to understand.” She further added, “About three years later, the same friend read me a page of the same book on the phone which brought my thought sand mind to a stand still for a moment upon hearing those words.”

That very same evening Heydari found the book again and finished it entirely. She realised that the address behind the book was that of Osho Meditation Resort in Pune, and decided to visit it immediately. Upon moving to Pune, she fell in love with city so much that she wanted to give something back to it in return. “I fell in love with the landscape, trees, birds and people of Pune and they became an important part of my life which I have always wanted to give back to. So, opening up the gallery in Pune came naturally to me since I felt I could help with and add to the culture and art scene of the city,” she informs.

Vida Heydari
Image: Instagram

On Working with Artists…
Obviously, Heydari has worked with a great number of artists in these 15 years, mainly Indian, Iranian and Chinese contemporary artists. Even with the VHC Gallery she intends to continue working with contemporary art, and her main focus is going to be Indian and Iranian contemporary artists across all mediums.

On what kind of pieces, she would like to display in the gallery, Heydari says, “Given what we have all been going through collectively with the pandemic, I am more interested in showing works that evokes the sense of possibilities, hope and optimism at this point.” She further adds, “Artworks that build people to a positive space or thoughts or bring attention to an issue that can ultimately uplift their lives are ones I am aspiring to exhibit and promote in this space.”

Heydari mentioned that she hoped to collaborate with the unknown and young artists whom she hasn’t met and discovered yet. “Finding those talents, nurturing them and helping them realise their potential gives me great joy,” she says about working with up-and-coming artists. Apart from this Heydari also wishes to collaborate with museums such as the Kiran Nadar Museum in Delhi and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on the artists that she works with.

Most of the artists that Heydari has been working with, have been with her for over a decade, which makes her develop close bonds with these wonderful artists and their work. Some of her favourite artists that she has worked with include Khosrow Hassanzadeh, Pooya Aryanpour, and Kambiz Sabri. Currently, Heydari is obsessed with the work of M Pravat, and says, “He has a very impressive practice where he utilises natural materials such as brick, dust, slate, wood, metal, ink, graphite, and pigments by using intricate techniques to produce the stunning sculptural works or drawings on paper or canvas.”

Vida Heydari
Image: Instagram

On the VHC Gallery…

The décor of the VHC Gallery has followed a very minimalist aesthetic. The appearance looks grand and expensive to the eye, but it does so without being loud and gauche. The colours palette used throughout is very subtle and greenery plays a big part in the ambience. “Simplicity and clean aesthetics really attract me, also the feeling of comfort is of utmost importance,” Heydari states.

Attached to the gallery is an exquisite fine dining restaurant that serves contemporary European cuisine, which will also have musicians performing from time-to-time. “At VHC we express art through multiple mediums, food being one of them,” the curator informs. The restaurant was added to add to the overall experience of the people who visit the gallery, Heydari hopes that it could serve as the area where the inspiring conversations amongst artists and art lovers take place.

Another thing that is on on her mind is a about the time after the pandemic restrictions in the country relax. Heydari hopes that she can invite and host prominent artists from across the country at events suc as exhibitions, art talks, educational programmes and dialogues. It will serve as a much-needed platform to create more chatter around art and its applicability in everyday life. She also hopes that some day she can produce projects that would bring together Indian and Iranian artists and curators with their unique ideas.

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