In works of art astonishing for their beauty, sophistication, and virtuosity, Shahpour Pouyan critiques political power and expresses a poetic melancholy about the human condition. Born in Isfahan, Iran, in 1979, he now divides his time between Tehran and London, and his work is in the permanent collections of the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Victoria and Albert Museum. Winter in Paradise will be this internationally renowned artist’s largest solo museum exhibition to date. Three major projects from the past decade will show Pouyan’s extraordinary mastery of a range of traditional and new media and his engagement with history and contemporary events.

Conceived as a triptych in three galleries, the exhibition explores architectural symbols of power and the fragmentation and destruction of monuments in war. Works on view will include examples of the drawings and ceramic sculptures for which Pouyan is well known, plus his first virtual reality installation, which is making its debut at the Frist. Set in a chilled room, the VR installation is an immersive multisensory experience that invites viewers to explore the interior of a medieval Persian mosque.

This project is supported by an Ellsworth Kelly Award. Granted by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, it is given to one American museum each year toward the realization of a pivotal exhibition in an artist’s career.

Shahpour Pouyan: Winter in Paradise is organized by the Frist Art Museum.


Supported in part by the Ellsworth Kelly Award,
made possible by the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.


Supported in part by

Clay Blevins

Blevins logo


Supported in part by

Gordon CAP Gallery Fund


Presented in part by

Frist Foundation, Metro Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission, and National Endowment for the Arts logos




Exhibition gallery

Events and programs

Member Event
Thursday, May 30, 2024, 12:00–5:30 p.m.

Member Preview: Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous and Shahpour Pouyan

Member Event
Sunday, June 2, 2024, 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.

Member Morning: Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous and Shahpour Pouyan

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