x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018


Kourosh Nouri, 37, who runs the Carbon 12 gallery with his partner, talks about his love of art.

Kourosh Nouri at the Carbon 12 Gallery in Dubai.
Kourosh Nouri at the Carbon 12 Gallery in Dubai.

Kourosh Nouri, 37, who runs the Carbon 12 gallery with his partner, talks about his love of art I left Iran when I was 13 and was brought up in France. I hate politics but I wanted to contribute something after the recent troubles in Iran so I have staged an exhibition of work by the Iranian artist Gita Meh's called Silent Voices, in honour of those who are not heard. Art can be very loud. It speaks to me. That is how I choose a painting. I go for pieces that talk to me. The first paintings that really affected me were in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris when I was 15. They were works by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Eugène Delacroix. Then I saw Constantin Brancusi's Sleeping Muse. There are certain things in life that speak to you; this was one of them.

I started collecting at the age of 26, while I was working for my father in his consulting business in Vienna. I found the world of business deadly boring. One of the first works I bought was by the Iranian artist Rokni Haerizadeh. He is really popular now, but then he was totally unknown. I just knew he was great; I have a very instinctive approach to art, what I call the "eyes to stomach relationship". Your eye gets trained but you also have to rely on your gut instinct.

I find the process of collecting interesting; from the first time you see a work and think about it, to buying it, bringing it home and talking about it. It is totally addictive. There are some artists I have been watching for a long time like the Norwegian artist Tor-Magnus Lundeby. Buying his work Refugee Camp felt like such an achievement. I was able to buy it because I have opened a gallery with my partner Nadine Knotzer, so my collecting has a professional side. But I still wouldn't sell my favourites to just anyone. The buyer would have to share the same enthusiasm for the work as I do.

My father is still astonished at my chosen career. He has a lot of respect for my choice but simply doesn't understand it. This whole world is a mystery to him. Here in the UAE contemporary art is still relatively unknown. I get a lot of people looking at my collection saying, "My six-year-old daughter could do that." It is a totally fatuous comment, but I just smile and try to explain that there are so many elements involved, like how you hold the brush for example, that it would be impossible to imitate. But the contemporary art scene here is like a newborn child. It is still getting there.

Silent Voices will run until the end of July at Carbon 12, The International Artspace, Ground Floor, Marina View Tower, Dubai, 050 464 4392, www.carbon12dubai.com