Shahpour Pouyan’s work is a commentary about power, domination and possession through the force of culture. His interest lies in singling out particular objects whose images captivate him, and by painting them he releases the feeling of anguish they create. Pouyan’s hooves are symbols for the aspiration of power, lonely beings with vain attempts at grandeur, which are faintly ridiculous, provoking mixed feelings of pity and contempt. The works draw their inspiration from Iranian miniatures with references to the cow as the symbol of power in the ancient cultures of Sumer, Babylon, Iran and Hinduism, emphasising the superego of male aggression throughout the centuries.


Shahpour Pouyan was born in Isfahan, Iran, in 1979. He has an MFA in Integrated Practices and New Forms at Pratt Institute, New York, and has an MFA in Painting from the Tehran University of Art.

solo gallery shows 
Select solo galler shows include 249 Kilometers by 68 Meters, Nathalie Obadiah Gallery, Paris, France, 2022; Skyhigh Is My Place, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Ghent, Belgium, 2021; Me thinks These Be Devils Three, Nathalie Obadiah Gallery, Brussels, Belgium, 2021; After Examining The Logbook, The Doctors Assume They Are Dealing With The Plague, Galerie Nathalie Obadia Cloitre Saint Merri, France, 2019; Untitled, Barbara Walters Gallery, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, USA, 2019; Wūshuǐ, Copperfield, London, UK, 2018; The Incarnation of the Body Politic, The Armory Show, Focus Section, with Lawrie Shabibi, New York, USA, 2018; My Place is the Placeless, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2017; We owe this considerable land to the horizon line, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, France, 2017; History Travels at Different Speeds, Copperfield, London, UK, 2015; PTSD, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2014; Full Metal Jacket, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2011; and The Hooves, Sixty Six Art Gallery, Tehran, Iran, 2010.

Recent group exhibitions

Islamic Arts Biennale, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 2023; Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, UK, 2022; Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians, Asia Society Museum, New York City, 2022; Selection from the NYU Art Collection, The Grey Art Gallery, NYU, New York City, 2022; Contemporary Ceramic Art from the Middle East, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, 2021; Skin & Hair, Keramiek Museum Princessehof, Leeuwarden, Netherlands, 2021; Prelude: Melancholy of the future, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Ghent, Belgium, 2021; Miniature 2.0, Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey, 2020; BLUE, Lawrie Shabibi Gallery, Dubai, UAE, 2020; Clapping with Stones: Art and Acts of Resistance, Rubin Museum, New York City, 2019; The Moon: A Voyage Through Time, Aga Khan Museum, Canada, 2019; Speaking Power to Post Truth, Curated by Sara Raza, Jane Lombard, New York, USA, 2019; Punk Orientalism, Curated by Sara Raza, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Canada, 2018; White Anxieties, Curated by Raul Zamudio and Juan Puntes, WhiteBox, New York City, USA, 2018; Only the Morning Bird Treasures the Flower Garden, REDCAT, Los Angeles, California, USA, 2018; In the Fields of Empty Days, Los Angeles County Museum, LACMA; California, USA, 2018; The New Minimalists, Abrons Arts Center, New York City, USA, 2018;  LB01, Lahore Biennial, Pakistan, 2018; Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 2017; The Silk Road and World’s Civilizations, 7th Beijing Biennale, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China, 2017; The Jameel Prize 4 exhibition, Asia Culture Centre, Gwangju, South Korea, 2017; Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians, Museum of Fine Art, Houston, USA, 2017; Insights, Art Basel Hong Kong, with Lawrie Shabibi, Hong Kong, 2017; Iranian Voices, Recent Acquisitions of Works on Paper, British Museum, London, UK, 2017; UNSEEN, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2016; Home Land Security, SF, USA, 2016; the Jameel Prize 4 exhibition, Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey, 2016; Recentring Modernism, Insights Sector, with Lawrie Shabibi, Art Basel Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2016; But Still Tomorrow Builds into My Face, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2016.

His work is part of many prominent private and public collections including: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, New York; Collection of Robert Littman and Sully Bonnelly, New York, USA; The Abby Weed Grey Collection of Modern Asian and Middle Eastern Art, New York; The British Museum, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Mohammed Afkhami Collection, Dubai, Huma Kabakci Collection, Istanbul; SYZYGY, New York; The Farjam collection, Dubai; Zoroastrian Cultural Institute, Paris and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran.


In 2022, Shahpour has been awardedThe Ellsworth Kelly Award for Visual Arts 

2022 by The Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York. Pouyan is the recipient of the 2020-2022 Kenneth Armitage Foundation Fellowship, London. In 2016, Pouyan was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize 4 by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK and has been awarded the Civitella Ranieri Fellowship for Visual Arts in Umbria, Italy.


Pouyan currently lives and works in New York.