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The Artists of Sight Unseen

Rahraw Omarzad
Rahraw Omarzad, born in 1964 in Kabul, is the Director of the Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan (CCAA). He is also a lecturer at the Faculty of Fine Arts Kabul University and Editor-in-Chief of Gahnama-e-Hunar Art Magazine.

As a student at Kabul University, Omarzad studied drawing and painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts and began a career of teaching and lecturing shortly after his graduation. Omarzad has remained close to his roots in the arts and education, working as a lecturer in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was in Pakistan, where he found a group of likeminded expatriate Afghans devoted to dialogue and improvement of the arts, that he conceived of the publication Gahnama-e-Hunar.

The first issue appeared in 2000 with a circulation of 1,200 copies. The magazine has proved a breakthrough publication in the Afghan arts scene. Early issues focused on painting, sculpture and calligraphy and later, at the request of readers, expanded to cover film, theatre and music.

Today, Gahnama-e-Hunar publishes discussions on new curricula and other necessary changes for Afghanistan’s art schools, alongside reports on the growth of the nation’s cultural life, the reopening of the National Gallery, the search for national art treasures that have gone missing and the restoration of Afghan cultural heritage. International institutions and organizations now support the magazine.

In addition to his work as an editor, Omarzad continues to create his own video art and photography. Focused on themes of evolution, change and renewal in Afghanistan, his work has been heavily influenced by local street culture and urban exchanges in his native Kabul.

Seifollah Samadian
Born in Tehran in 1954, Seifollah Samadian is an accomplished Iranian artist, photographer and cinematographer. Highly-regarded internationally as an art director, Samadian has worked with directors like Martin Scorsese and Abbas Kiarostami. Samadian came to the forefront of critical attention in the Iranian the arts scene for his photographic work in the years following the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.

Samadian later became Professor of Photojournalism at the University of Tehran and is today Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Iranian cultural magazine Tassvir.