Written by William Dobson
With a passion for all things Middle Eastern, and having a natural affinity for the arts, it seemed only natural to Shahdad and Joobin Bekhrad to merge their two loves in their latest venture, art clvb (yes, that is a ‘v’).
Established in 2011 by Shahdad and his son Joobin, along with their close friend, Farnaz Taghavi, art clvb’s mandate, simply put, is to promote the works of contemporary artists from the Middle East. However, art clvb also considers itself a ‘cultural ambassador’ and patron of the arts for countries in the region, and thus its goals go beyond simply championing particular artists and selling their works.
In promoting the arts & culture of the Middle East, art clvb works with visual artists at all career stages, from those who are just emerging, to those who have already made a name for themselves within and outside their home countries. At present, art clvb’s roster features a good mix of artists from around the region and the surrounding area, from countries such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and India, with new artists from different countries being added on a routine basis.
Based in Toronto, London, and Dubai – three major art capitals – and having myriad connections in Iran, art clvb is international in every sense of the word. With strong ties among galleries, cultural institutions, publications, and other organisations in each of these locations and elsewhere around the globe, art clvb works to provide as much exposure and recognition for its artists as possible, and continuously seeks to broaden its reach. This international presence, merged with their social media savvy, communications expertise, and extensive database of collectors, gallery owners, auction houses, and opinion leaders, is something that truly adds value to not only their artists, but to all those who collaborate with them.
Their know-how aside, another thing that makes art clvb unique is its approach to business. As Joobin Bekhrad, art clvb’s Marketing & Communications Director stresses, ‘we’re not here to compete with anybody, whether they be galleries, auction houses, institutions, or other players in the market’. Rather, as Joobin notes, art clvb strives to form mutually-beneficial collaborations and ‘become friends’ with all that come their way, and this outlook is something he attributes a large portion of their success to thus far.
Although art clvb’s website has attracted much attention among audiences around the world, they have many more plans for the future. For one, they are developing a new website which will be heavily sales-oriented, and provide a new platform for galleries and artists. As well, they are also in the process of establishing a blog, which aims to cover not only visual arts in the Middle East, but other domains as well, such as literature and music. Given Joobin’s experience as a blog editor and journalist, this has been an ambition of his ‘from the outset’.
Altogether, these three individuals have a lot on their plate at the moment, although they don’t seem in the least daunted, or skeptical about what the future holds. ‘We’re enjoying every minute of it, and don’t view this at all as a job, in the traditional sense of the word’, notes Joobin. ‘We’re incredibly passionate about the arts & culture of the Middle East, and are very lucky to be able to do what we enjoy so much’.