Top Iran sculptor Parviz Tanavoli says accused of 'disturbing public peace'

 Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli standing next to his sculptures during an exhibition in the Gulf emirate of Dubai in 2009.
Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli standing next to his sculptures during an exhibition in the Gulf emirate of Dubai in 2009.PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (AFP) - Prominent Iranian sculptor Parviz Tanavoli said Sunday he stood accused of disturbing the public peace, the ILNA news agency reported, after he was prevented from leaving the country last week.

"I learnt this morning in court that the police had accused me of publishing false information and disturbing the public peace," he told ILNA, after visiting Iran's special court for culture and media.

"They told me my sculptures are examples of disturbing the public peace," the 79-year-old said, although the police did not immediately confirm this.

The authorities confiscated Tanavoli's passport last week as he attempted to fly to London for the launch of his new book, European Women in Persian Houses.

The book, a study of images from Iran's Safavid and Qajar eras, contains some nudes - the display of which is banned in the Islamic republic.

"I have worked for 50 years and so far none of my works have had any problems," Tanavoli said, adding that the accusations came after his works had been on display at several venues around Teheran.

Iran's ultra-conservatives criticise Tanavoli because he had ties to the Pahlavi monarchy before it was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Tanavoli is one of Iran's most expensive artists and his art is in major museums worldwide including the British Museum, as well as New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art.