When I went to mosque in Shiraz and palaces, I saw they had wall-to-wall mirrors, I said, “How wonderful it would be if I could bring a piece of that into people’s houses and living rooms,” so I started doing mirror works that way. First I was doing my own design and cutting the mirror and painting behind the glass, which was done 200 years ago by Russians and Iranians—flowers, portraits, things like that. I did that in a very abstract way, mixed it with mirror, and then I became aware of geometry.
These recent shows have been a remarkable time in my life because for so long I was really a nobody. Little by little, I’ve become. . . I don’t know. . . better known? Certainly the Guggenheim wasn’t giving me a show until now. I lived in New York for almost forty years, and moved there initially in 1944 to be a student. I was friends with many poets and artists at the time: Calder, Mitchell, Avery. I used to go to a club once a month on Tenth Street; all the artists would gather there and one would give a talk. I remember Philip Johnson, de Kooning, Newman, and then after that they would all go to the Cedar Tavern. I would follow but I wouldn’t drink. I had a lot of fun, though. Anyway, these days in Tehran the disco doesn’t let me in!